You have noticed that your child has been behaving … um almost too well … for a while.

While at the start of the lockdown he was excited and full of ideas, questions and rebellion now he is not doing anything challenging and he is staying close to you all the time. He is not enthusiastic about going out for the daily exercise and he’s stopped asking all the questions.

He seems listless and you have also noticed that he seems hyper aware of both yours and his dad’s comings and goings and just recently he’s had a lot of tummy aches. 

You have asked him if something is wrong and he says there isn’t, just that it’s hard to get to sleep. You’ve tried to explore if he’s anxious about the virus or about family and friends but he just shrugs his shoulders and looks away. If you push further he gets angry.

Your intuition is of course right. Something is bothering him but he hasn’t worked out for himself what it is yet.

So how can you help your child find out?

Our mind has a habit of playing tricks with us and it likes to deliver the answers it thinks others (especially those in authority like parents, older siblings, teachers) want.

Our body on the other hand is always loyal and truthful.

Where ever your child’s stress is showing up in his body (tummy aches are very common but it could also be a headache or a bad knee) ask your child to put his hand on where it hurts and pretend that he can breathe in and out of that part of his body.

Invite him to describe what it feels like in there? Is there a colour? Has it got a shape? Is it heavy or light? Dense or see-through? Repeat the answers back to him – “so it’s a deep feeling and it’s black and heavy and a zig zag shape”

Ask him to keep breathing in and out of that part of his body.

Ask him if he thinks that part of his body might want to tell him or you something? 

If it doesn’t it might be that his index finger can pretend to be a torch and he can take a look and see what is happening in there.

Repeat back what you hear.
Keep up the dialogue with the part of the body affected till it feels completed.
Finish with encouraging your child to ask that part of himself if it needs anything from him or from you and then try and give that.

Be curious, open and welcoming to whatever shows up in this little dialogue and you are sure to get good information as to why your child is behaving differently and is suddenly more needy.

This in turn will invite conversation about whatever the worry is. Perhaps a school friend’s granddad died? Is that TV show too scary but he can’t admit it? Is there a misunderstanding about something someone said?

Emotions are the body’s GPS system and once you learn how to have a dialogue with them you will always know where you are going 🙂

Most of us were brought up by Stiff Upper Lippers where the standard and aim was to repress and deny any and all emotional expression so we are doing a really good job with the next generation if we can show them that it is perfectly safe to listen to what a feeling is trying to tell us.

If you would like to learn about emotionally intelligent parenting and how to take the dialogue with the body further take a look at the workshops I run throughout the year.

Over to you?

Have you ever tried this kind of body dialogue with your child? Or have you had a chat with your own body? How does it feel? What did your body say?

Do join the private members-only, peer-support community on facebook. We all have so many gems to share about how to help children and young people deal with their emotions and I would love to hear about what works for you and your child.

If you liked the blog and found it useful I’d love it if you shared it.