I love how well-equipped children arrive to us. We have this societal view that it’s up to us to teach children all these things, that we need to train them, to get them educated, etc but the reality is they come to us with all the important things in place. Most of what we teach and drill into them is, again, more about society than what is important. The reality is we have a heck lot to learn from children.
Thankfully, psychology (and hopefully most psychologists) have begun understanding the value of emotions. This is where I think children are the most intuitive and intelligent. They know how to offload efficiently, where most of us adults have lost that gift and ability.
Some people really don’t understand this concept. They think there are good and bad emotions and that you want to move on quickly from the so-called bad ones but the problem is that you can’t just “move on”. You have to feel and sometimes explore these things to really alleviate the pressure or rid yourself of it entirely. If you just tell yourself to move on sometimes that makes it harder as we also have a tendency to beat ourselves up when we can’t do something so those feelings just sit there waiting to come out and usually not in the best ways.
Children often offload in ways we don’t see as ideal. Such as the classic “toast cut the wrong way” meltdown. Here the child is using a seemingly innocuous parental indiscretion to break down and let out everything that they have stored. If the parent is able to Staylisten (get in close with warm eye contact and empathise without fixing) that child will then offload whatever they need to from incorrectly cut toast to when they were unexpectedly knocked over at kindergarten and afterwards that child will feel much better having had those feelings validated and then supported in their release. More on children and emotions here and here.
There are few times most adults experience that freedom but we have some socially accepted and occasionally allowed loopholes such as hormonal outbursts or exhaustion where we can be angry or upset about one thing and if we truly allow ourselves to go there (which so many of us only do in those few widely accepted moments) we can be crying or raging about one thing and end up offloading something completely different. When it comes to these pressure-cooker moments because of that build up and rare release, it can often come at inopportune times.
Yes, here I go again, referring you to Listening Time. Both adults and children need their feelings and emotions heard by a non-judgmental, supportive and empathic person. There is no end to the benefits of having your hurts/fears/anxieties/stresses/confusions/guilt/shame heard by someone who is Listening attentively whilst holding and reaffirming for you that you are good and you are wise and that you have all the answers. This process also clears the way for us to be able to do the same for our children.
When you get into a regular Listening Partnership you will often go into that time prepared with something to work on and sometimes you can veer from the original topic. On a recent occasion, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to work on so I just started talking and flitted from subject to subject.
I had a minor vent on something I had long ago decided was an immovable object in terms of problems to be solved. I got off the call still feeling that way but slightly lighter about it whereas it had previously given me a jolt of frustration and helplessness when I thought about it. Later the next day when I thought about it, I had the slither of an idea that might work. I made a call and suddenly I knew I had one way to make the situation significantly better. Then I made another call and even as I was on the call I had started with one idea but as I talked about this situation with less charge and fear, I found myself finding further solutions and ended the call with the situation entirely transformed into something quite wonderful.
This is not the first time Listening has done this but I do love those moments. I mostly use Listening Time to work on things I know I can work on. Sometimes I use it to say things out loud that pop into my head and make me guilty outside of that safe space. Sometimes I use it to work a problem I know has a solution but I need to find my way to it but I find some really exciting magic in those times it culminates in an unexpected solution to something that had seemed unworkable.
I know for some it is just such an unusual concept. I know for me it seemed entirely unnecessary but I now couldn’t live without it and I can absolutely notice when I’m missing it. I am happy to offer Listening to those who want to try it so please let me know. This article also gives more info and advice on how to find a regular partner.
If you have any questions, Just Ask
Aunty Ask xx