Kids Want to "Feel Felt"

I am a fixer.  I am a controller.  Neither of these traits help my kids to be the best they can be.  I want to show them how problems can be solved.  I want to tell them what they should do.  Again, not helpful to my children.  Do you know how I know my kids aren't being helped?  They tell me I don't understand, they tell me to go away, they shut me out.  These are my clues that I am making a mistake.

Our kids want to be heard.  Our kids want to tell their stories.  Our kids want acceptance.  Our kids want to "feel felt."  When I jump in with all of my ideas and wisdom, they are defeated and that need is not met - leaving them to push me away...

So what do we parents do to meet this need?  Here are some things that have been powerful for me to remember lately:

-  Listen  When I empty my mind of judgements and attachments, I am open to hearing my child's story.  I am open to noticing her body language when she shares, observing the tone and emotion behind her words.  She knows that I am all in and fully engaged in her story.

-  Validate  This is so easy and so easily forgotten!!!  Name what your are hearing about your child's emotions.  "It seems like you are really angry about how you were treated by the teacher."  "Your sad that they other kids didn't want to play the game you suggested."  This isn't time to tell them they are being dramatic or wrong, this is a time to recognize and accept their emotions.

-  Pause  Notice the above statements aren't questions, they are comments.  Kids will let you know if you are right on or if you are off.  A neutral pause keeps the space open for them to share more.  The more they share the closer they get to the root of the problem.

What I am noticing lately is that this is often enough.  My kids just want to be heard, feel felt.  They want to be accepted and validated for how they are feeling.  The other thing this does is allows them to cool down, get their thinking cap back on.  Once they get back to their thinking brains they are often jumping up with a solution to their problem, or sharing an insight that the interaction allowed them to have.

We (I) need to have faith in our children.  They need to live their own lives, make their own mistakes, have their own emotions and reactions.  They don't need their parent telling them what to do or how to feel.  They don't need to be criticized, judged or analyzed.  They need to "feel felt."  This is encouragement, this is acceptance, this is faith, this is love.  This gives them the space they need to reach out and invite us in.

My work is to remember to walk my talk!

Smiles -

Casey