What we do NOT do when trying to heal a child can be as important as what we do. Though we have love in our hearts and good intentions, we sometimes inadvertently do things that can make things worse, not better. Here are 3 things that you do NOT want to do when trying to heal a child:
1. You do not want to get pulled in. I think of that space that a struggling child is in as a trauma vortex that can easily pull us into its center if we are not careful. When we get pulled in, we become emotional, reactive, and out of control, and that is often when we make bad decisions, like threaten something we can’t really follow through on (nor do we really want to.) In my previous blog, I explained the 3 most important things to do first when trying to heal a child: feel your feet on the ground, breathe deeply in through your nose filling your belly up with air, and notice your separateness from the child and the vortex. This is how you can hold a safe space for that child to come back to.
2. You do not want to talk much at all. When a child is struggling, the part of the brain that is most active is the part we share with animals that doesn’t speak the language of words. Their more rational, language-based brain becomes hijacked. When we talk “at” a child who doesn’t have the capacity in that moment to process our words, the child becomes more agitated and agony is unnecessarily prolonged. Challenge yourself to be still. Ground yourself, breathe, and hold a safe, compassionate place for the child to come back to. You’ll be surprised how quickly this happens when we don’t agitate the animal brain with our words.
3. You don’t want to encourage a “safe” expression of violence, like punching a pillow, kicking the wall, or pounding a punching bag. Anytime we engage in a behavior, we create neural connections for that behavior in our brain. When children are encouraged to take their aggression out on inanimate objects, neural connections for aggression get stronger the more the behavior occurs. When neural connections get stronger, the behavior becomes more automatic. Rather, replace the violent behavior with a healthier outlet like running, jumping, or pushing hands until the energy is all used up.
Talk to you on the call today at 3 p.m.!