“No, I won’t go to the car! Stop, I hate that.” (Suki, age 4)
A consistent theme in parenting is how to handle our children’s big emotions. Those moments when we hear the word, “NO” or “HATE,” send parents into a downward spiral. We are zoomed back to our childhood, flooded with emotions of not getting our way, being disrespected, and punished. We forget that our child is only 4 years old, and we are not under attack.
So I am here to give permission to look into the context of the words not the actual content. For this example, Suki meant “I need more time, and I am uncomfortable with this unknown experience.” Suki’s parents respectfully honored her words as content defined as – “No means no.” So, immediately the entire family catered to Suki, dinner plans were cancelled, siblings cried and everyone went into distress mode.
Suki’s family is not alone. I experience this scenario daily as a parent and weekly as a professional. The benefit to seeing the context allows me to support Suki’s family. They learn that in the moment the demand was placed on her, just before she said NO, her body was actually doing something. Suki was playing in her familiar room, with her familiar dolls in the pretend water bath. She was feeling soft doll hair, cool water, and no noise besides her own singing voice.
The sensory change she was saying, “No” or rather my interpretation “give me a moment” was about to be noisy, void of soft textures and most importantly entirely unknown.
Her parents have now been supported to register Suki’s immediate reactions as just a moment, an opportunity to acknowledge that everyone needs to take a beat.
They have wisdom to understand that just as we don’t get mad at our children for reading at different rates, our children are also learning patience, transitions, and tolerance at different rates.
The family can pause, join Suki in her idea, support a choice to bring a tactile object with her and acknowledge how brilliant she is for her preferences. . Suki, didn’t “HATE” anything, she just needed to learn how to ask for time, and slow down her frustration.
Did you know that our children have sensory and movement preferences and we can use these to create smooth transitions? Everyday I work with children of all ages and their families to help support the meaningful connection and needs expressed by each other! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (310) 966-0700 to schedule your time.
Please Note: These stories are based on real moments but all names, ages, and identifying information has been changed to ensure confidentiality and safety for all individuals involved. The events are a composite of related scenarios used to illustrate the work; bringing understanding to the benefits of supporting children through a mind/body connection.