It’s not unusual to be somewhere public and overhear a child experiencing strong emotions. We’ve all been there just as all children have been there. Adults tend to ask the child, “why are you crying?” Sometimes it doesn’t make sense why a child is upset. It could be helpful to place one’s perspective into the mind of the child.
Basic Needs Met
What happens when you don’t get enough sleep? Grumpy rage monster, perhaps? What about after you get home from a long day at work and you are starving, perhaps say things you don’t mean in your red-eyed hangry fog? We have all been there. When our basic needs aren’t met it affects our mood, patience, and attitude. Children are highly susceptible to this as they haven’t had decades to work on controlling or working with the hangry, sleep-deprived monster inside. It takes time, practice, and a patient mentor to help children learn the necessary tools to tame said monster. We as adults can be the examples for that.
“Name it to Tame it”
A way to mentor a child through the rollercoaster of daily emotions is to help them know what they are feeling. Helping a child identify and feel emotions is key to learning how to regulate and care for self through adulthood (Siegel, 2016). Saying something such as, “You seem sad,” or “You look angry,” helps children to be able to make sense of what is happening inside their body and know in the future.
As humans, we are social creatures. Children become grounded in a loving home. They learn by observing, experiencing, and listening. They are sponges that soak up whatever is around them. Why not give them love, time, and support to soak up. Children look to adults to know how to respond in situations as an example (Siegel, 2016).
Patience Through Perspective
There is an analogy that has stuck with me over the years. Imagine you are at the zoo with a child and their balloon floats away.
The child becomes very upset and cries and screams “My balloon!! I want my balloon!”
You respond, “It’s okay. We can get a new one.” Seems reasonable enough, right?
“But I want THAT balloon! That is my balloon,” cries the child.
It can be confusing why the child is so insistent of that particular balloon. But to the child, whose world is a whole lot smaller than an adult’s, it’s hard to see one of your loved belongings float away. Let’s add some perspective and try the story again. You are at the zoo again with a child, but instead, your wallet leaves your pocket and starts floating away.
You try to grab it while shouting, “My wallet! I want my wallet!”
Someone responds, “It’s okay. We can get a new one.”
“But I want THAT wallet! That is my wallet,” you explain.
Perspective can change a situation so much and perspective into a child’s world is just that, putting your mind into a similar situation of a different magnitude. It can mean all the difference for understanding a child.
Siegel, D. J., & Bryson, T. P. (2016). The whole-brain child: 12 revolutionary strategies to nurture your child’s developing mind. Vancouver, B.C.: Langara College.
Image- By: John Evans (https://www.freeimages.com/photo/blue-balloon-1193182)