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Connecting Through Comforting

The Kid Connection: Part 3

 

--Adam Maisen, LPC-S/TA

· The Kid Connection

Poor Mr. Wiggles:

Last spring, I got up early one Saturday morning to mow my overgrown lawn. I was trying to hurry because I knew that the weatherman had forecasted storms with high winds that afternoon and evening. My 4-year-old son and my 7-year-old daughter came outside to play while I was mowing.

About 30 minutes later, I noticed my son carrying around a small item that looked a little like an over cooked Arby’s curly fry. It was an earthworm that had fallen victim to the hot Arkansas sun. He introduced his friend “Mr. Wiggles” to me and stated that he was going to take him in the house to show mommy. Mommy does not like bugs or any things that crawl, so I let my son know this was a bad idea.

His lip started to quiver, and I saw his eyes start to well up with tears. I realized that I had broken his heart as he explained, “but he is my friend.”

I didn’t think I had time for all of this. However, what my son needed at that moment was for me to get down on my knees and give him a big hug. That is not what I did, but I sure wish it had been. Instead, I told him to leave the worm in the grass and go back in the house, no hug, no nothing. He dropped his head and with his bottom lip around his ankles, he walked back into the house.

A Kid’s Perspective:

Our kids see the world differently than we do. They don’t have our life experience and they look to us for answers about difficult situations. Sometimes we do not want to take time out of our busy schedules to meet them where they are.

When kids throw tantrums, do we think about what they are really saying?

If you remember from the first post in this series, the behaviorists tell us to punish unwanted behavior. I don’t want my kids to throw tantrums. It is inconvenient and annoying. It can be disruptive and seemingly unnecessary.

All behavior happens for a reason. What our kids are saying when they throw fits is, “I am feeling big feelings right now, and I don’t know how to deal with them.”

A Better Approach:

There will be time for correcting, but before we get there, we must comfort. I have outlined the brain science behind this in a previous blog article--Lead By Example: Don’t Poke the Lizard.

 

I want to give you 5 specific ways to offer the comfort that your child craves:

  1. Make sure you are calm.  Screaming, “Calm Down!” through gritted teeth is just not effective.
  2. Sit down one on one with your child. Big feelings can be embarrassing and hard to talk about.
  3. Establish a team approach between yourself and your child: “I love you and I’ve got your back.”
  4. Identify the emotion: “Hey kiddo, it seems like you were feeling _____________.”
  5. Actively listen to the story from the child’s point of view.  The same attitudes I mentioned for creating safety in partner relationships are also true for parents and kids.

Next week, I will be showing you how to take The Kid Connection to the next level through meaningful communication.

Thanks for reading!

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