Do you find you become frustrated at times as an adult when your child will not listen to you? Some days you feel like ripping your hair out of frustration! When you understand how children think, it puts things into a clearer perspective.
Children are developing their brains, fine motor muscles in their hands, co-ordination, speech and walking on a daily basis. You, like every child have had to go through this experience. As an adult it is second nature and assumed that when a child can put a sentence together – they are expected to know or understand how situations, conversations or emotions work. Think when you as an adult start a job for the first time. Could you fully operate the office, know where all the paper work is, how to answer the phone, who to speak to, where to find materials or resources? You could even think back to the time you learnt how to drive. You had to learn how the gears, accelerator, steering wheel and review mirror work together as a team.
The communication processes that are constantly developing rappidly as a child are the sensory senses. Sight, smell, taste, touch and co-ordination. When children are trying to communicate they will communicate through senses and exploring. Putting it simply – less words. When you grow up and become and an adult, your senses are second nature and not much thought is given to the development of your senses. As an adult, you rely more on logical thinking, words, actions and of course assumptions based on what you have learnt from the adults who surrounded you whilst growing up. Putting it simply – adults use more words.
When adults and children become frustrated with one another, its because one is communicating with too many words, and the other(mostly the child) is trying to understand the words, but cannot because it doesn’t relate to their senses and understanding. Their processing is through senses. When you ask children how they feel, although they can speak – they cannot always say how they feel, or why they feel irritable or angry. This is because they need support and guidance from the adult to communicate through their senses.
Tips to help you:
1. The communication Den. From our previous post How to use creative activities to cope through life, it was suggested to have a Den. A personal space which is smaller and provides shelter.
2. Communicate through pictures. Instead of asking children how they feel – ask them to point out to a face that has an expression. You can draw various faces that are smiling or angry. Number the faces too that the most angry face is number 10 so you know the extent of irritation/anger.
3. Have activities around that can help them release anger. Examples: Punching bag, (or a specific anger pillow), trampoline, swinging tennis ball, a screaming pillow.
4. Sensory activity suggestions: breathing techniques – EFT is very effective and has been used with many of our clients, chopping up strips of hard food and chewing on them like carrots, having relaxing or calming oil smells in the house.
The importance of your input:
When your child is going through the experience, it is important to ask them if you want them near you or to leave them alone. Some activities they may just want you to stand there whilst they hit the ball, or jump on the trampoline calling out numbers. Giving a child an activity with the expectation for them to just do it – will not work. They are still learning and the only way they learn is by watching their parents/adults surrounding them.
What is EFT?
EFT is emotional freedom techniques. By tapping on certain accupressure points on the body, this stimulates the effect as if attending an accupuncture session. Only without the needles. One great EFT point which I always use for children is the point on the chest, just below the collar bone closest to your shoulder and on the side of the hand (karate point). When parents are willing to do this activity with their children, they will follow. It may be simple or feel silly, but at the end of the day – having your child feel safe is more important.