I wanted to share a story that might be helpful if you have kids who struggle with shoes or clothes that “don’t feel right”.
One morning Sally’s son had a major meltdown over something that seemed small, a shirt that didn’t feel right. It wasn’t the first time her son complained about something not feeling right, but there didn’t seem to be consistency on what would bother him. Sally tried to be understanding but she would get frustrated and just try to get him to see that the shirt was fine. Over time the stress of these meltdowns was causing stress for everyone. Sally hated the tension these meltdowns had on her whole family and it also bothered her that she had to send her kids off to school after such a stressful morning.
One day, she had an “a-ha!” moment. Sally realized that her sons meltdowns were more than just the piece of clothing – they were a result of her sons nervous system being activated. She realized that her son was struggling with some big feelings, his dad had been on the road for a few days and he really missed him. She realized that because he was already feeling bad, the shirt became a trigger that set off a chain reaction of overwhelming feelings.
Once Sally understood that the shirt was just a trigger, everything changed. Instead of trying to coax her son into ignoring whatever was causing the meltdown, she started to validating his feelings and offer support. She acknowledged her sons feelings while also encouraging him to think about what else might be causing some of his feelings. Sally was able to make mornings smoother for everyone.
Sally realized that finding better ways to understand what was triggering her son she could provide him better support. It was a great reminder to Sally that sometimes, there’s more going on than what meets the eye, especially as an expat with all the transitions and changes that are involved in this lifestyle.
When Sally shared the story with me, I thought it was a great reminder how important it is to listen (not only with our ears) to our children and validate their feelings, even when we don’t fully understand them.
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Psssttttt..if your child is struggling I know how hard it can be to watch, be kind to yourself, you won’t always get it right, and that is ok. Your kid is so lucky to have you are doing great!