Similarly to my last post about helping C through a hugely emotional situation, I found that as time went on, and his development increased, his need to expel his emotions increased too. One of the huge eureka moments for us was learning how to detect when he needed to release some difficult feelings, which on the surface seemed irrational and alarming to us.
Unpleasant behaviour such as hitting and being verbally demanding and angry which initially made us worry and become frantic to put a lid on, soon made sense to us as being cries for help. Being there as his wingmen when he was struggling with these episodes, was just what he needed to feel safe and loved enough to be able to release the negative emotions that he was struggling to direct and let out. When he hit, we were there to respectively shield his blows to prevent him from harming, and help him verbalise his feelings in a calm and loving way, which dispelled the tension and allowed the release of the root of his emotions. When he felt verbally angry, we recognised his need for connection and love, in order to release his upset.
But sometimes these emotionally charged moments aren't as apparent - like the times when nothing is right, and C is just plain fractious. The natural feeling as adults is bemusement, when there is such upset at being given 'the wrong' coloured cup for example. It's irrational, right? But that's the point - C is floundering, he is caught up in so much emotion that he is desperately trying to place it, trying to find a way to let it out. So instead of switching cups to humour and brush off such behaviour - not that it would make a bit of difference because that cup would be wrong too - we should stop and ask 'why'. Once we understood what this behaviour was about, we were able to help him to let his emotions out and feel a whole lot better.
Children are such delicate emotional souls, I think we forget that they develop emotionally as well as mentally and physically - perhaps because you can't see it. We are so caught up in controlling behaviour, and being seen to control it ( God forbid they should have a meltdown in public, because that must mean that you are a weak parent and the child is out of control) rather than really trying to understand the root of it, and working it through with them. Society seems to praise parents for their ability to give a certain cold, sharply toned order which makes their children immediately obey, or to swiftly cover up any emotional public spills. And you know what? That's exactly the same reason why we as adults find it so hard to understand the emotional roller coaster that our children are on. I have often found myself in a moment of turmoil where I could just scream and cry and it catches me, and I think, yeah, I get it. I'd do it too if I wasn't conditioned socially to keep it in. Learning emotions and how to express them appropriately and healthily is as much a learning process as walking, or talking.
You can find information about RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers), Janet Lansbury and Hand in Hand Parenting here: