You feel so helpless and powerless when your child is struggling with friendships and belonging.
- When your child feels they don’t belong or fit in anywhere
- When they don’t have any friends
- When they hate going to school because of their peers
- When they are never invited to parties or sleep-overs
You would be super-human if you were not affected by this and I can hear the grief in your voice and the pain in your heart and I know that you feel torn in half by anger and desperation.
When you can no longer pick them up and kiss it better it is perfectly normal, but still very painful for parents to be stressed, angry and anxious themselves.
So how can you help your child with the rejections, the betrayals and the downright dirty drama that happens every hour of every day in every school?
Here is my tried and tested 5 step process:
1: Get yourself clear and calm.
This is 100% necessary and is the step we think we can skip. You can’t. Your child’s distress will be absolutely proportionate to your agitation. This is because you love each other. It is a good thing. But…
…spend the time needed to get yourself completely calm and detached in whatever way works best for you. My preferred method is tapping and you can download a tapping script here to help you, but do use whatever method works for you: walks in woods, meditation, mindfulness or yoga.
2: Prepare and provide a safe, time-spacious window to sit down together.
This might mean getting someone else to look after the other children, switching off phones, clearing the calendar and closing the doors.
Invite and allow all the pains, problems and feelings to come out. You can aid this by having paper and colouring pens, a sand tray, modelling clay available.
Give it the time it needs and don’t interrupt with suggestions, comparisons or solutions.
3: When they have emptied out their heart and laid down their burden, gently probe about where specifically it goes wrong in the interaction with the other child. At what moment does ‘it’ feel wrong/horrid/bad/unfair/sad.
Help your child identify and get specific about the exact moment and what that feels like now to remember?
“Where in your body do you feel that?”
“Have you felt like that before?”
4: Ask them (again gently and with compassion) what they make that mean about themselves?
Often they will answer along these lines: “I am a coward” or “I am not *something* enough” or “there is something wrong with me”.
5: Ask them if that is really true?
Can they know absolutely that it means they are “…….”? Is there another interpretation?
This 5 step process will help your child come to terms with exactly what is happening for them when they are in the tricky situation.
When you know what it makes you feel like, where you feel it, what you make it mean about yourself and you question the truth of that meaning, you have come a long way down the road of acceptance.
And for anything to change we have to first accept what is.
What is it that someone else is doing something that is making me react and feel in a certain way.
When I recognise and have awareness about that, I have a choice.
Choice about how I feel and think but also about how I react.
The truth is that the rejections, the name calling, the betrayals are very rarely personal in the way we think they are!
Once upon a time we lived in tiny isolated communities surrounded by forests.
Humans are all hard-wired to try to get to the middle and stay there.
Children and adolescents we have not developed the ability to feel another person’s feelings: Empathy doesn’t embed till we age 23-24.
So, when another child metaphorically elbows your child out of the way with cruel words it is their attempt to get to safety in the middle of the huddle.
It is not personal. It does not mean anything about your child as such. It just means that the other child saw an opportunity to get themselves safer.
How does that sound? What do you think? Over to you:
Will you be able to use this 5-step process with your child and help them feel understood and heard?
Do you agree that we have to accept what is in order to change it?
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