Every single day, regardless of how conscious and aware we are as parents, children will likely experience something like
:: unmet needs
:: major events such as moving house or divorce
:: physical pain
:: frightening experiences
If not expressed, these feelings accumulate in the body. They begin to show up in lots of ways.
Some of the common ones are
:: demanding your attention
:: taking aaaaages to fall asleep
:: crying over seemingly insignificant things
We can’t prevent all of these experiences in the first place, but we can help our children to heal from them and in the process help them to become more emotionally resilient. It’s never, ever too late to start healing. And we can do this simply by ‘holding space’ for our children.
What does ‘holding space’ really mean?
Holding space for our children means that we are allowing them to express themselves without reservation. We are not there to fix or advise, our role in holding space is to listen. This definitely takes practice!
Very young children obviously can’t sit down and have a conversation with us about their pent up feelings. Young children operate from their feeling sense (not the head/ abstract/ thinking sense) and talking too much kind of draws them out of that feeling sense and into their head space where it’s difficult for them to release their emotions. So instead, they will use tears and tantrums at times (along with some talking and laughter at other times) to release their emotions. This is totally healthy.
I want to take a moment here to stress that I am in no way talking about the Cry It Out approach where children are left to cry alone. This is stressful and frightening to a young child. If you have done this in the past however, please be gentle with yourself, knowing that you did what you thought was best in that moment. And it’s never too late to help your child heal from past events. The approach I’m talking about here is about staying with your child, accepting all of their emotions.
If your natural inclination is to distract your child from tears and tantrums, recognise that this is conditioning from your own childhood, and then ask yourself if this is the relationship you consciously choose for you and your child?
And if you’re willing to explore another way, a rich and deeply connected way, how can you support them when they do need to cry?
Here’s 5 key phrases to try:
1. Name the emotion “That made you feel really angry, frightened, sad etc”
2. “I see you’re feeling upset right now.”
3. ”I’m right here with you.”
4. “I’m listening.”
5. “I love you.”
Stay in this compassionate, present, loving space as long as possible listening to the tears or tantrum. This time will increase as you become more familiar with holding space.
What are the outcomes you’re likely to see?
:: more eye contact
:: more affection
:: more settled
:: less clingy
:: less whiny
:: less demanding
Those are some great reasons to give it a try, right?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, please share with me in the private Lightfilled Parenting circle here
B. Ed Early Childhood
Certified Lightworker Practitioner
PS We go much deeper into emotions and your own personal scenarios with tears and tantrums in my online program Emotional Balm