How To Help With Unavoidable Disappointments

May 31, 2016

               Connection: a soothing and rebalancing healing balm for the little ones
It can absolutely bring tears of disappointment for a young child when they have been told ‘this’, or ‘that’ is going to happen … and then it doesn’t. The little one begins to live in anticipation of the doing, outing, event etc … especially if it is something they are truly wanting to do, and by we adults talking about it … there has been some excitement built up around the event; and then the letdown, ‘oh we aren’t going to go today honey’.
Of course, life happens, and there are disappointing moments.  In my experience, as a mother, and an educator …  with a situation such as this … when it only happens once in a while most children are resilient enough to move forward easily with a little touch of empathic validation from the parent.  Yet, if such events happen regularly i.e.,  daily disappointments, then the child may need some caring support to remain emotionally clear, along with the parent realizing that it may be best to not talk about an event or outing until right before  ‘it is happening’, which can spare daily setbacks and struggles.
Even if a child doesn’t bring up, or talk about disappointing situations on their own, repetitive disappointments do leave imprints; impressions that may linger unresolved within the child can create unconscious belief patterns such as;  things that I really want don’t happen, adults never follow through etc.
Take time to notice, and touch in when you know there have been disappointing circumstances in your child’s day. Although our little ones emotional life is in a dreaming state … it helps them if we slow down, get close and connect, clearing any possible emotional residue from the day … which will allow them to remain open and free to be engaged in life.
Our children need our ‘presence’ to help them digest the reality of life’s often confusing and disappointing circumstances by way of non-judgmental heart to heart connection. What does this look like; we begin with breathing and centering ourselves as to not be in conditionally based reaction, relaxing out of thought into our breath as to be ‘present’ and responsive. From there we simply validating what we sense is lingering in our child around whatever the challenging moment may have been.
Empathic validation is, coming from the position of equanimity, naming the ‘what is’, for the child … while staying warmly connected to them in the moment.  Such as, ‘you were looking forward to going to the park today and we didn’t get to go’, and then give room to simply relax and listen to the child. Your child’s experience of you feeling, seeing, hearing them is connection, which allows them to open up and share what needs to be released and integrated. We continue the validation if it feels meaningful, ‘you really wish you could have gone’, or ‘you don’t want to be told that you are going somewhere and then it doesn’t happen’ etc.
Then again, silently connect and listen without any attempts to fix your child, or make the circumstances better by trying to change the child’s present state; thought or feelings; this never truly helps. Connection, and empathic acknowledgement can only happen when we (the adult) are without any agenda one way or the other (other than being ‘present’ with our child). Simply staying connected with the ‘what is’ inside of the child in the moment, listening quietly as they share what they might be holding … creates the opportunity for the child to digest the issue, and reorganizing themselves inwardly.
Year after year with our little ones at the kindergarten we have noticed that with such compassionate care and connection … no matter what the unsettling event may have been (a fall, not getting the doll they wanted, a friend saying an unkind word etc) …  they feel seen, met and heard; joyfully reentering their natural state of wonder.
Hope these words are helpful, and of course, follow your mama/papa heart first and foremost.

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May 25, 2016

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