Do You Know What Your Child is Feeling?
Many parents today sacrifice to give advantages to their young children and teens, such as going to the best preschool, college, extracurricular lessons or trip abroad. However, these same parents often don’t take the time to know what their children are experiencing and feeling day-to-day. Unfortunately, time spent on day-to-day communication does not seem to be on the top of parenting priorities.
When a child has an experience, but can’t talk about it, that experience can be meaningless for them. The psychologist Rollo May so wisely stated: “Anxiety comes from not being able to know the world you’re in, not being able to orient yourself in your own existence”. As a teacher and therapist, I see both children and adults who lack opportunities to be heard and related to in authentic ways. They often are suffering silently. Reflecting back another person’s feelings is actually an easy skill to learn. All it takes is to observe, ask questions and empathize. Is your loved one feeling sad, mad, glad or scared? Reflect that back to them with genuine concern. Put yourself in that person’s shoes without judgment. “I see that you are feeling very mad, can you tell me more about that?” “I am sorry that you feel disappointed that your friend was mean to you at school.” These simple expressions of empathy go a long way to establish bonds of trust, safety and love.
We all need to feel that others, especially loved ones and family members, care about us and know what is going on in our lives. When our children experience our love directly and get that validation, they grow emotionally and develop interpersonal skills. Children and teens can’t get this on Facebook. They need old-fashioned face-to –face or heart-to heart relating. Spending time regularly with your child, before bed or at the dinner table, is essential to understanding your child, who needs you to be there for him.