Enjoying Your Kids
I was reading Katherine Hepburn’s book, Me, and was taken back by how forward thinking her parents were in raising her. She was an empowered child!
Kate climbed trees and houses and did outrageous dives, and her mother’s friends would say, “Did you see what Kate is doing? She might get hurt.”
Her mother always replied something like this, “Yes, I know. But don’t tell her. She thinks she has nothing to fear.”
Fear. What is fear in our children? Fear is unique for a child, and it is a culmination of how a child is wired, plus his or her experiences. Fear is an important emotion to neutralize on a daily basis as a child engages in life. What purpose does fear serve? How can we help kids engage in life without fear?
As I watch my ninety year old mom walk, I realize that she walks with fear unless she has her walker. Yet a child starts to walk without fear, but rather with anticipation of movement and the determination of getting something or someone.
Even when they fall repeatedly they continue to pursue walking without fear, unless they are hurt. Even the pain of hurt does not deter them from trying again, because typically someone is there to sooth them and encourage them to try again.
So fear is established when we learn it or our bodies respond to situations that trigger it. Fear is healthy in some areas and in others, it is an obstacle to overcome. When fear controls our lives instead of protecting us, it is out of control. Fear of heights, fear of people, fear of school, and on and on.
Imagine telling your child as they start to stand up, “Don’t stand up. You might get hurt. Just keep sitting on the floor and don’t try it.” Silly. But we do it for so many other things, trying to protect our kids, when in reality we want to condition them to making good judgments on their own. They can do it!
So we want to help kids identify their fears as soon as pop up. Which ones are healthy? I feared going to school. I was very shy. Looking back on it now I can see that my shyness was an inability to deal with the dysfunctional family I lived in. I had no emotional security in spite of a high level of physical security when I was young. I needed someone to address those feelings instead of telling me to go to school. It will be fine. There is nothing wrong with school. There was for me and as a result I closed down on learning.
Fear after a traumatic incident is normal. But allowing that incident to continue to rule our life is not normal. Nowadays we know we can neutralize fear that is locked in the body with simple methods such as meditation, Emotional Freedom Technique, exposure and lots of other ways. Fear is a thought that we have learned is true, although it may be false.
My daughter had a fear of swimming while her sisters loved to swim, jump in and go for it. Instead of pushing her to swim, we assured her that one day she would be ready to jump in and it was okay to take her time. We insisted she learn to float so if she should fall in so she would feel safe. Then we let her decide how she wanted to “swim.” When she was about six she came home from a day camp and said, “I did it. I jumped in and swam!”
Tough fears we use tools that help the nervous system get over the incident that created the fear. Try this. My simple version of EFT.
1. Think of an incident that still gets you highly upset when you think about it.
2. Give it a number from 1 – 10, 10 being it takes you to tears of fear, anger, sadness, anxiety, etc.
3. Now tap on the side of your hand where you would chop a board in two with karate.
4. Say, Even though I feel ____ (angry, sad, frustrated, anxious, afraid) I COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY ACCEPT MYSELF. Say it three times.
5. Take a deep breath and measure your level now.
Just addressing the reactions and teaching our kids this simple tool can help a child calm down before a test, after they are upset. Check our new program to get an in-depth introduction to EFT!