The longing to know what happened to your child at any stage of the day is understandable and natural (Photo: ShutterStock)
You came to pick up the child from kindergarten, expecting him to run to you with open arms and a wide smile after a whole day of not seeing each other, but the reality was a little different and disappointing. Instead of a smile he would look angry, maybe sad, you couldn't quite understand what happened to him and that interested you very, very much. The younger the children, the less clear the answer to "What happened to you?" will be, if there is an answer at all, and the feeling of frustration in this moment of yours, as parents, is very strong, and then you begin to make assumptions: Maybe a child snatched a toy? Maybe he's hungry at all? Maybe he experienced rejection and felt alone and insecure as a result?
The longing to know what happened to your child at any stage of the day is understandable and natural. It sometimes stems from your need to feel that you are in full control, as well as an expression of your difficulty in letting go and trusting both the staff and the child to cope in various social and personal situations. Noga Hila Conditional, a parent and family counselor, NLP facilitator and couples counselor, explains that preoccupation and focus on "what happened?" may create pressure on the child and therefore it is important to know how to let go, and instead of dealing only with what happened - focus on the emotional experience of the child through reflection, validation, naming and emotional mediation.
So what can I say?
Try, for example, to tell your child something like, "I see you're very angry, right?" Such a sentence will draw the child's attention to the fact that you see him, along with a slight reservation expressed in the question mark at the end, so that the message that will be conveyed is that you are suggesting an emotion (anger) and not stating it as an absolute fact. This is part of the emotional clarification and mediation, and as the children grow older, they will be able to fine-tune the emotion they feel if what you suggested to them was not true.
Even if you don't know exactly what your child's
emotion is and even if he doesn't know what it is, that's okay. The main thing is to have a present and attentive discourse around emotions. The main thing is for the child to feel that you have recognized that he is going through something and that you are together with him in this, holding with him the emotional experience and supporting him by legitimizing everything he feels now.
Emotional vs. problem-solving discourse Parents tend to question their children because they are sure that if they know exactly what happened, they will be able to solve the problem
for them, while the parental role is not necessarily to give the children the solution. Your important role, as parents, is to be with the child in an emotional presence and hence give him tools to deal with what he is feeling and only then also with his outward choices.
Insisting on "what happened?" can lead to assumptions that can be misleading, and sometimes even the child himself doesn't know what he's feeling, just as you, as an adult, don't always know how to put your finger on what made you feel a particular emotion (sometimes it's just a mix of things that have drained into a current mood). Therefore, what is important here is the very existence of the emotional discourse and not necessarily finding the cause and its solution. By working together to break down emotions and name them, your child will feel seen and understood and sometimes – that's all he needed.
The main thing is for the child to feel that you have recognized that he is going through something and that you are together with him in it (Photo: ShutterStock)
The Jama app was established in order to provide a solution for mothers of babies between birth and age three, and to gather content, activities, tips from experts and videos that will accompany them throughout this challenging period. All the content in the app "grows" together with the baby and is precisely adapted to his developmental stages, so that mothers receive only what is relevant to them and interests them at any given moment.
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Daniel Sarantzky, in association with JAMA
- New parents