So I am a Mumma. That is my favourite title, Mumma. It makes me feel like a big warm bear (that growls when necessary). And for those of you that have little-in’s they come in all shapes and sizes, and from different planets it seems at times, leaving you scratching your head, rolling your eyes or clenching your fists with frustration rising.
They of course melt your heart with their laughter, impress you with their creative imagination and leave you gob smacked by their insight.
My three munchkins are my best teacher. I know, that old stereotype, but you see, it is a stereotype for a reason… there is truth in it. It truly is the hardest job I have. I go to work to take a break. So I can pee alone. Have a cup of tea in peace and be focused without two minute interval interruptions. Oh the bliss! Yet at day’s end my heart is yearning for their grubby mitts and I scoot to pick up, ready for round 2 of the day.
To the women (and men) who are full time mothers at home – I take my hat off to you.
In my “day job” I have the honour and privilege of going out into the community and stepping through doors into other peoples lives. My role is to walk next to families at their rawest and most vulnerable, to laugh with them at the joys and triumphs, and share knowledge, wisdom and stories cross legged on the floor. It calls for me to be vulnerable and when I do that, it invites them also to do the same, the room ignites and magic happens. Road blocks are removed and challenges scaled!.
This kind of work means Im often knee deep in kiddy play, with one on one fun, in groups, or within the family unit. It’s a great excuse to play Peter Pan and never grow up!
I see and work with so many super-sensitive high vibrating munchkins with a GIANT dose of swagger getting about with a pack load of difficulties in processing their experiences, this world and its friction, let alone be able to easily understand and integrate big stress, tension, change or trauma.
We, as their mumma’s and pappa’s, or fellow humans are here to guide them with that. And that’s a tough gig in itself, as sometimes we are in a bit of a scramble also. Overloaded, overworked, stretched, maybe even still wounded ourselves. I know it, and it’s okay. Acknowledging this is the start and all it means is we get to explore and learn together. Children don’t need us to pretend we know it all, they need us to be real and honest.
So lets play the “Thought, Feeling, Action” naming game. You can draw it, write it, act it out. Or just have it in a conversation. It can be done in the moment, or as an activity at the end of day after the hurricane is over for reflection, giving you and your little people the tools for next time, or at least a referral guide as to what the hell you’re on about when you are asking “What kind of thought is that?” or Where are you buzzing?
When the crazy is happening, it’s often cause they are out of their body. A whole heap of information and senses are whirling inside them and they are not grounded. They need your help.
1. Be the circuit breaker.
3. Get curious. Ask about Thoughts, Feelings, Actions.
4. Invite a different perspective. A different story.
5. Create a strategy or prompt together.
So I play it out something like this…
Be the circuit breaker. Get them grounded and back in their body pronto! A hug, encouragement to breathe, a request to step outside into the yard to plant their feet on the ground, or to run that buzzing energy off around the house. Quick – I’ll time you! (circuit breaking is the hardest part and biggest hurdle, once you’ve got it, your near home and hosed!)
Example: My boy, he doesn’t deal well with loud noises, music or crowds of people. Prep was a huge challenge for him (and his teacher I might add) and it took a lot of work to chart those waters, navigating him from a place a fear, frustration and deep sadness to giving him the skills to self regulate. (why don’t they come with an instruction manual?) School Disco’s are a challenge still. They cause him to go from calm to chaos in under half an hour! My role is to support and prompt him when he is struggling, not do it for him. It goes something like this…
“Hey Matey, I am noticing that you are getting a little wound up, you’re bodies bouncing all over the place, why don’t you get outside somewhere quiet and find a nice tree to get calm.”
After allowing him the freedom and independence to choose where he needs to be, I join him, and ask permission to chat.
“Hey, what was happening in there for you?”
“Wow, that must have been hard to contain, but you did, nice work. Where did you feel it in your body?”
“Oh right, it made you feel wound up like you were going to explode. How are you feeling now that you’re outside? Better. Good. So being in nature calms you.” (Verbally identify as feedback what you are visually seeing. Supportive Aids can also be reading a book, listening to music, drawing, a familiar toy or object)
“Im wondering what was going on for you in there? What were thinking?” (That everyone was noisy, running around everywhere, running into you, not hearing you when you talked)
Next, get down and dirty. Ask them where it is they experience their feelings? Hands, chest, throat, feet, head, are pretty common sensory heightened areas. Get curious about what those parts felt like. Hot, cold, fuzzy, tight heavy, electric. Use their words and/or name for it. Allow them to own and understand the experience.
Connect the Thought and Feeling.
So, it sounds like when you are having thought A it creates feeling B in area C of your body, is that right?
What does thought A have you doing then? Put the action, or the expression of their thought and feeling into words. This externalises it and creates an opportunity for them to be the Master of that feeling and action by changing their thought and response.
“So when “Wound up” comes into you it has you doing things that makes you and others upset. Hmmm, I wonder what you could say or do to make “Wound up” go away?”
Enquire if Little Miss now Calm and Centred can look at the experience with a different perspective. Support them in re-writing that story, and identify what it is specifically that calms them, giving you a tool for them to use next time the bubbles are bursting.
So, there you go, a tool to support the little people. (And maybe one us big kids can use too.) Triggers have been identified and thoughts and feelings have been connected to the action. Mr and Miss Sunshine have also re-written how the story goes for next time, and with practise they will be able to do it all by themselves in a whole range of situations!
Maybe it will help you too.