Posted by Deepa to share about how the tool of “acknowledging feelings” which she learnt in the program helped her.
This story brings out the fact that when we see the interaction between children, we often do not know all that is going on. We do not know what each one is feeling and why they behave the way they do. So as a parent rather than judge them and try to be the arbitrator, if we just keep trusting them and acknowledging their feelings, they are capable of handling things in a way we would never imagine.
My six year old son and two year old daughter love to play with a mattress we have. They lie down and pull the mattress on top and pretend that it is home. One day they were playing in the room and I was outside. I could hear the little one continuously saying to her brother” Anna I also want to come in”. But he kept saying no. As a mother hearing one child pleading with the other to join in on a game is so difficult, especially when it’s the younger one. I wanted to go and interfere, say the typical things like” Why can’t you allow her to play with you”. But I stopped myself. Since it was bath time what I did instead was call my daughter for a bath. She had a very sad look on her face. I went and hugged her. My son then said, “I am so angry with her. I told her something and asked her not to tell to thatha (grandfather) but she went and told him”
Suddenly I realized that he is not being mean for the sake of being mean but because he was angry about something. I was glad I did not judge him. I only said,” you are very upset that she shared your secret with thatha. You really wish she would not do that”
My daughter was still keen on playing with him in the mattress. She said,” Mummy I also want to go in.” I said, “You really wish Anna would let you play with him. It is time for a bath would you like to play with cups while you take bath. I then asked my son if he would want to join us in the bath.
He said, “No, I am still very angry with her. Let her have her bath first and then I will have a bath. I am so angry that I will say and do mean things to her.”
So I told him, “Ok, when you are feeling better come and join us.”
I was amazed at his maturity in recognizing his angry feelings and knowing that in such a situation its better to stay away because his anger would come out in other ways.
There are many things I learnt from this incident- one was that as parents we need to realize that our role is not to come into sibling disputes and try to solve them because we rarely understand all that is going on. Secondly we need to trust that every child is loving and caring and if we see them as being “mean” its always because they are feeling angry, insecure or unhappy about something. Third, acknowledging feelings is a powerful tool to reach out to a child who is feeling distressed without judging or hurting the other child. And when acknowledge feelings children also learn to recognize articulate and handle their emotions.
We are building their emotional intelligence!