A while ago I started to notice a pattern when working with small children.
The moment I said.. “they are acting this way because they feel “insert emotion””, the squirming and wriggling would stop and the child would want to hop off the table, walk out the door or go and play.
It was if they were saying – “yes, you’re absolutely right, that makes perfect sense, I’m ok now”!
It was as if all their uncomfortable feelings just needed to be named.
As a child we run on feelings – happiness, joy, curiosity..
But things happen in life and it we don’t always have the comprehension to fully understand the events, but our feelings kick up all the same. Whether it’s sadness, anger or overwhelm, it all just feels.. yucky.
We can ask our children – what/how do you feel…?
However, developmentally they may not have the comprehension or the ability of self analysis to say “that made me feel this way”. You might find that they come up with the most recent story in their mind instead, such as “my brother took my toy”..
So when we just name the emotion, along with it comes a sigh of relief.. a feeling that the adults in our lives understand and can take care of these feelings for us.
Recently we moved houses a couple of times. In the middle of the 2nd move my 2.5 year old boy started to “become defiant”.
For me, this was completely understandable – anger is often expressed in the place of fear and sadness..
So I started saying to him something along the lines of – “I can see that you are feeling a bit scared and sad.. this is what is going on, and mummy and daddy are still here, that will not change”.. I repeated this over and over again and from that moment the behaviour changed.
Even as adults, if our feelings are recognised by another, we more often than not feel an instant sense of relief and understanding.
It really is a powerful tool and doesn’t take much other than watching your child and reading into their emotions rather than only seeing their behaviour at the time.
After all, behaviour really is only an expression of what we are feeling at the time.
Warmth and joy,