-A guest post ft Kylie Johnston on supporting children through anxiety and other BIG feelings from both personal experience and as a Parent Coach
"When our children are struggling we do too.”
I learnt very early on in my parenting journey that in those moments when our children don’t want to participate or are having massive emotions… it can very easily head south as we get emotionally involved. We don’t even realise we’ve been caught up in the drama until it’s too late. But if we are able to pause and view it from the child’s perspective, things can simmer down quickly.
The next time you find yourself in this sort of situation you can follow the P.E.A.C.E process:
Pay attention - without judgement or evaluating - what might’ve lead to this moment? Are they tired, hungry, overwhelmed?
Everybody’s feelings and needs - yours and the child’s - it’s helpful if you say to the child “Help me understand”, this takes us out of judgement/punishment.
Allow yourself self-empathy - find a self nurturing tool for yourself, for example clenching your fists and releasing, rubbing your palms together, rubbing your thighs, eating ice
Care with empathy- see it from the child’s perspective
Exploring Solutions- often what is missing is play- you can turn a situation into fun to move out of control and into a space of curiosity and playfulness…
When we pay attention, acknowledge everyone’s needs and feelings, see it from the child’s perspective, show empathy and explore solutions - time slows down, the situation becomes less intense and we are all able to breathe again. This takes practise and you won’t always get it right but if you remember the most important part of being able to see it from the child’s perspective; you will see the intensity of the situation eases.
Another’s feelings or emotions are not our responsibility, we can’t ‘fix them’ or take those feelings away. We simply need to acknowledge the feelings they are having and hear what they have to say.
If we let our own emotions take over we can’t see what is happening for the child. The more we can do this throughout the day in general the better we can be at pausing and responding, rather than reacting during times of challenge. To check in with your own emotions, practise pausing for 5 seconds every so often during the day to get a sense of what you’re feeling - try to put a name on it. If we can regulate our emotions and name what it is we are truly feeling we are better able to recognise what might be going on for our children in these intense moments.
In moments of stress, PAUSE.
PHYSICALLY stop and take a deep breath
ATTUNE to your emotions and how you truly feel/ acknowledge them and let them pass without reacting
USE your breath as your anchor- breathe in slowly, breather out slowly a few times and then, breathe in slowly and sigh your breath out a few times
SLOW DOWN and choose that which truly serves you, letting go of that which no longer serves you and those who no longer serve you - it’s your choice
EMPATHISE with yourself and others, accept the ‘as-is’ of the situation and give grace to yourself and others
PAUSE so that you can simply BE in the world
Bio: I’m a mum of three, two of which have learning differences, one with Aspergers and one with dyslexia. I speak from experience, both as a mum and as a Parenting Coach. I offer support to all parents and especially those who are navigating children with anxiety, learning differences and thinking outside the box.