This has been a hard week for me, and from the emails and texts I’ve gotten, I think it’s getting harder for many of you, too.
We can always look toward the bright side (even if we can’t look ON the bright side)…this quarantine means we have more together time at home, we’re connecting more and more with friends and family, we have time to try [insert new recipe, new workouts, new TV series, new book, etc.]. There are endless silly memes, and songs, and people doing some seriously creative and wonderful communal things online.
But where there is a bright side, there is also darkness. And like I’m always saying in class…we tell our children that we love them when they are happy and we love them when they are sad and angry. And that yes, life gives us hard times, we acknowledge them and accept them because they will end.
But like I also say in class…it’s so easy to say that…it’s so much harder to sit with a child in despair and sadness or anger.
And it’s getting harder for ALL of us to sit with our sadness and anger. Our grief. Two wise and wonderful women I know shared this article on Facebook today, and I hope you take a moment to read it.
I’m not going to lie: my self-care has slipped. My ambitious to-do list is still ambitious and left undone. My temper has won and tears have fallen.
Maybe those things are happening in your house, too. Maybe you’re wondering if you are damaging your child or creating unhealthy patterns. I’m here to tell you I really don’t think so. Yes, this is a challenging time. Yes, you are more distracted than ever before, even if you are physically present more. And yes, your children are most definitely picking up on your unease, either indirectly or very directly.
But you are also very aware of this. You are RIE Parents! You see your children! You feel for them. You slow down for them, and talk to them, and involve them. MOST of the time. Remember…attachment is formed through care…but it is deepened in repair…we rupture, then we repair our relationships, and we get deeper. So when your temper wins or when you realize you’ve been on your phone too much. Stop. Acknowledge and reset.
I love, love, love what Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson say about this in their book, No Drama Discipline:
…our messy, human, parental responses give kids opportunities to deal with difficult situations and therefore develop new skills… they get to see how you model how to apologize and make things right. They experience that when there is conflict and argument, there can be repair, and things become good again. This helps them feel safe and not so afraid in future relationships; they learn to trust, and even expect, that calm and connection will follow conflict. Plus, they learn that their actions affect other people’s emotions and behavior. Finally, they see that you’re not perfect, so they won’t expect themselves to be either. p. 218
Another thing I love from Bryson and Siegel is their idea of ‘name it to tame it.’ When you talk about your feelings, those big overwhelming emotions you are (or your child is) feeling, you engage your frontal lobe…that lovely part of your brain that is the seat of our self-control. The simple act of naming and acknowledging those feelings helps them move through you. So talk about what you are feeling, talk to your children about what they appear to be feeling. Build a bridge between the feelings and the mind.
Lastly, one of the things that was recommended in that article was the practice of mindfulness… which is essentially what we practice in our sensitive class observations. What do I see right in front of me right now? What is my child doing? What are they playing with? How is that making me feel? What comes up for me? Sitting with whatever that is and realizing that what is coming up for you is separate and distinct from what your child is experiencing and doing. Please take some time to practice this each day. Even if it is just for a few minutes. Observe and breathe. And let me know if it helps.
Keep taking care of yourselves, and remember you can always reach out to me so we can talk through strategies and plans. I’m also available to video chat, with or without your child. Let’s stay connected.
With peace and care,