Last week we worked on helping children understand their own feelings and linking different kinds of touch with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ feelings.This week we’ll look at feelings again and how adults and kids can practice the skills needed to talk about emotions.
With the pressures of everyday life, many of us who care for children can end up contradicting children’s feelings without even meaning to. Does this scenario sound familiar?:
Child: “I don’t want to go to kindy, I HATE kindy”
Adult: “No you don’t hate kindy! You said you loved it yesterday.”
Adult: “We are going to go visit Gran today”
Child: “I don’t like Gran, I don’t want to go”
Adult: “Don’t be silly, you love Gran! She loves you!”
Sometimes kids can express feelings which are difficult to deal with, or don’t work with everything that needs to be done to run a household. These are tricky moments and understandably adults often just need things to flow smoothly.
In these moments, adults have an opportunity to build on kids’ abuse prevention skills or to undermine them. When we tell children they don’t feel like they say they do (e.g. ‘you don’t hate Gran’ or ‘you really like kindy’), we create confusion in them and make them doubt their own feelings. Abusers often use confusion to keep children quiet by telling kids that something feels nice when it is actually confusing or scary.
In everyday life we know that feelings change, and our kids are unlikely to hate kindy or Gran forever. It’s important that we still acknowledge children’s feelings regardless of whether we think they are always true. When we take children’s feelings seriously, it helps them develop faith in their own perceptions and to know that we will believe them.
NOTE: Acknowledging kids’ feelings doesn’t mean we always have to change our plans, but it does mean that we can take these opportunities to help kids know that we respect that they know about how they feel.
There are some great resources for adults in these situations here https://www.ahaparenting.com/blog/Preventive_Maintenance_to_Keep_Your_Child_Out_of_the_Breakdown_Lane
This week’s activity:
Ruth Davy-Fundraising Manager, HELP Auckland