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Today is Babywise Friendly Blog Network Day and Maureen from Childwise Chat is guest blogging all about valuing our kids feelings. This is a PERFECTLY timed post for me to read as we are dealing with Kye in a very sensitive stage. Thanks Maureen!
You know how it is. There are times when a child gets hurt and you’re not entirely sure how seriously to take it. Usually, we can tell the difference between a cry that says the child is physically hurt and a cry that says the child’s feelings are hurt. Other times, the child is simply tired or hungry. But many of us have gotten into the habit of trying to blow the situation over that we don’t take the child’s feelings very seriously.
It all starts when they’re babies. We quickly learn not to overreact when baby falls down. If baby’s parents tend to overreact, you’ll see the baby fall down, not cry, then look to the parents as they decide whether or not to cry. They gauge their own reaction by the parents’ reaction. So we learn to let the child determine for himself how he will react. But sometimes we can go overboard with this. We tend to not react so much that we don’t realize whether the child is seriously hurt.
A friend of mine told me a story about a time she was at a pool party. Someone’s child fell into the pool, fully clothed. The whole situation was unexpected and pretty alarming. The child was able to make his way out of the pool, but he was clearly shaken by the ordeal. Not knowing the child well, my friend sat back and watched the situation play out. She noticed that the child was surrounded by several adults who were all telling the child he was fine. They were all trying to convince the child that it wasn’t a big deal.
But to the child it WAS a big deal. I don’t know about you, but if I accidentally fell into a pool fully clothed, I would be shocked and upset. Luckily, my friend had the wherewithal to speak up. She just stood up, and over the voices of all the other adults, she said, “Wow, that must have been scary.” Among all the hubbub, the child heard my friend’s voice, searched out the person who said these words, and looked directly into her eyes. It was as if he had finally heard a voice of reason, someone who understood how he was truly feeling.
I bring this up because just now, as I write this, my kids are playing baseball outside and Lucas got hit in the forehead by the plastic bat. He came to me with a slightly upset look on his face. He lifted up his hair and asked me to look for a mark. But I could tell that in the few seconds it took me to look at his forehead, he was fine. He seemed ready to go back and play. So I gave him a quick kiss and off he went. I acknowledged the hurt, but reacted appropriately enough to acknowledge his feelings while also not holding him back.
I think they key in all of this is knowing them well. We need to know their cries, their tendency to cry or overreact when hurt, their sensitivity to hurt feelings, etc. And then when they are truly hurt (physically, emotionally, or otherwise), we need to get our egos out of the way and acknowledge the true hurt. We cannot take it personally when our kids are hurt, nor should we try to blow it off as we attempt to help the child. Our first step as parents, when our kids are truly hurt, is to acknowledge the pain for what it is and provide the appropriate TLC, not try to diminish the child’s feelings.
Maureen Monfore is a mother of two young boys, a freelance writer, and the author of ChildwiseChat.com and the eBook, Live in Harmony with First-Time Obedience. A loyal follower of the teachings of Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo, she is passionate about teaching children to obey to pave the way for fun, love, learning, and essential moral development.