In the fresh, cool morning air I spread a blanket in the shade of our back yard, bought out Jude’s favorite castle toys by request and settled into my chair to read and drink my morning cup of coffee.
Ezzy plopped down eating a granola bar. Jude full of enthusiasm about his toys said, “Ezzy you want to play castle toys?”
Ezzy responded nonchalantly, “I’ll just sit here and watch.”
Jude’s face turned from joyful anticipation of a friendly response to total dejection.
“Well, if you’re going to do that, you have to sit on a chair off of the blanket.” So there.
Now Ezzy was hurt and looked like he was going to cry. At that point he turned to me and told me that Jude had told him he had to get off the blanket.
“I think that Jude felt really disappointed that you didn’t want to play with him,” I explained. “He felt so bad that he wanted to hurt your feelings to make himself feel better.” Ezzy was totally tracking with me. “That’s why it’s so important to learn how to talk about your feelings.”
“Yeah, what Jude meant to say was that he was sad,” Ezzy explained.
“Exactly. And what you could say, Ezra, is that you just need to finish your granola bar and then you’ll play.”
At this point Kai, having missed the whole conversation, came onto the blanket and picked up a caste figure jumping right into play.
“I’m this guy,” he said.
“And I’m going to play as soon as I finish my granola bar,” Ezzy replied, munching happily.
These seem to be daily conversations at our house. Constantly helping describe other peoples intentions and feelings behind their often hurtful words and actions.
It’s a skill for life and one that can be learned through this sort of processing with our children.
Having these types of conversations doesn’t just help solve the present conflict, it helps build a child’s emotional intelligence.
As this skill of understanding the emotions of others and the feelings behind people’s actions develops, children are then able to translate this into more and more situations and handle their own emotions well in the midst of conflict.
Children’s feelings resonate with and stir up similar feelings in the parent. It’s not always easy to bear and be with those triggered feelings, parents need emotional support from those who are empathetic listeners.
The extent that we disown, deny or disconnect from our own feelings invariably tends to result in us disowning, denying or disconnection from our child’s feelings.
Developing the capacity to explore, to sit with, to feel, to listen to, to give expression to, to value, to heal our own feelings results in a greater capacity to empathically see, relate to, validate and generally be present with our child in all their difficult feelings.
If your child has the support and capacity to keep feeling and moving through all the difficult feelings that arise as a consequence of challenges, the child can keep conquering, learning from and strengthening through it all.” ~ Genevieve, The Way of the Peaceful Parent