Click here to listen to Episode 5

This episode focuses on our second principle of Treasure Time, which is how by accepting the child’s feelings we can help them to manage their own overwhelming emotions.

About our hosts:

Sophia Giblin

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sophiagiblin/?originalSubdomain=uk

A creative entrepreneur who focuses on ways to tackle the root of children’s mental health through play and secure relationships. Due to her own challenging experiences in childhood, Sophia went on to establish a thriving Play & Creative Arts Therapy charity to support other children who have experienced trauma. Her focus is on helping therapists, businesses and charities have more of an impact for children and families that they work with through coaching, strategy, fundraising and mentoring.

Nicole McDonnell

https://www.linkedin.com/in/mcdonnellnicole/

Nicole is a mum to two young boys, who also has over 20 years of brand marketing experience. She is a previous Chair Trustee at Clear Sky Charity and has past experience on the Ella’s Kitchen board.  Her roles have included Marketing Director, Head of Ella’s-ness, Global Brand Director with responsibility of creating and building one brand inside and out – including the wellbeing and culture of the team.  Nicole was instrumental in growing Ella’s into a multi-million pound international business, driven by the mission of creating healthy children.

About Treasure Time

Our vision is to drive connected, happy parent-child relationships, for the benefit of the whole family. Our mission and passion is to educate parents in how to become happy, mindful and confident in connecting with their own children through play.

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Value bombs and tweetables:

1. “I think the first thing that we have to remind ourselves is that feelings are visitors, they come and go and we will not be feeling this way forever… We have to accept that we live in shades of grey like and that it’s not black and white. It’s not all good and it’s not all bad. They come and they go and we ride the waves of feelings.” Sophia

2. “I end up bit like a Champagne or Prosecco bottle where everything’s just bubbling under the surface and then the cork comes off and it’s this like, massive explosion, because I’ve not dealt with the feelings as I’ve gone along, you know!” Nicole

3. “There’s a really great saying that is ‘When I’m drowning, don’t try and teach me how to swim’. Because in that moment, when a child is drowning in their feelings, it’s not the time to teach them a lesson. It’s not a time to say, ‘Well, I told you not to do that’ or, ‘Well, next time, you’ll have to do it differently’ because all of those things, it is us trying to fix it. But actually to the children, it looks like us dismissing their feelings and their feelings are very real.” Sophia

4.  “I wanted to make the (boys negative) feelings go away as quickly as possible. And for everything to be okay…  If I’m being really honest I wasn’t comfortable sitting with my boys uncomfortable feelings. I just wanted to make them disappear because it made me feel things I just didn’t want to.” Nicole

5. “It’s so great to see that really small changes can make big differences quickly in the relationship” Nicole

Transcription

Sophia

Hi it’s Sophia and Nicole, welcome to the Treasure Time Podcast: Growing Up Happy. So today’s podcast is all about our second principle of Treasure Time which is accepting the child’s feelings, all feelings – good and bad. Sometimes we get used to just accepting good feelings because that makes us feel good and the bad get a bit dismissed. Nicole how do you feel that you used to respond to your children’s negative feelings?

Nicole 

Oh my I found it absolutely awful. I hated it! I just wanted to fix it. I wanted to make the feelings go away as quickly as possible and for everything to be okay again, I really wasn’t comfortable with it. I didn’t like it at all. And I found myself jumping to the catchphrase of “Oh, it’s okay”. And I’d probably dismiss them and straightaway, just hoping that would go away. So, you know, being really honest I simply wasn’t comfortable sitting with my boys uncomfortable feelings. I just wanted to make them disappear because it made me feel things I just didn’t want to feel Sophia. I mean, how do you suggests that parents can start to accept all of their child’s feelings, the good and the difficult ones because it’s, it’s really not easy to do. Where do you start?

Sophia 

It’s really not easy to do. So it’s really normal in any relationship, whether it’s with our children or even with friends or with our partners or family, it’s really hard not to jump to fixing the problems. We don’t like seeing people in pain. It’s a very normal human reaction to try and just fix it. So if somebody comes to you and they’re feeling sad, or they’re feeling frustrated, or they’re feeling angry, they’re generally feelings that we don’t like feeling ourselves. So when we see people going through them, it makes us feel things that we don’t want to feel.

Nicole 

So totally and when it should when children like it, you just want it to be instantly better. Like you hate seeing them in that position.

Sophia 

Yeah, and especially when we can see it quite objectively as adults. We know that what they are going through is not really bad. It’s not life changing a lot of the time, sometimes it’s just that they are feeling sad, maybe they feel left out, maybe they feel that something’s unfair, but to them, it’s very, very real. So we have to appreciate and acknowledge that, see it from their level and really understand how it is that they’re feeling at that moment without dismissing it and just telling them that it’s all going to be okay.

So I think the first thing that we have to remind ourselves is that feelings are visitors, they come and go, children won’t be feeling this way forever. It’s a temporary thing, just in the same way that we don’t feel feelings forever. They come and they go, and we have to accept that we live in shades of grey like that. It’s not black and white. It’s not all good and it’s not all bad. They come and they go and we ride the waves of feelings. So that’s something that we can also pass on to our children and remind them that feelings are visitors that they’ll come and go, but we also have to acknowledge that when we can just accept the feelings, they actually go away quicker than when we try and dismiss them or squash them and say it’s okay or brush them under the carpet and actually remain a bit stuck in the body. When children can feel them and acknowledge them those feelings actually move through much quicker and get dissipated and children actually get over it, whatever the situation is much, much quicker when we help them to acknowledge their feelings.

Nicole 

I think that’s really true like from myself I found I was dismissing my negative feelings I end up bit like a Champagne or Prosecco bottle where everything’s just bubbling under the surface and then the cork comes off and it’s this like, massive explosion! Because I’ve not dealt with them as I’ve gone along, you know, and that’s, that’s just me personally, I know everyone deals with it differently.

Sophia 

Yeah, I think that’s quite normal. We can get in the habit of squashing down our negative feelings because we don’t want to feel them because we feel discomfort and there’s generally two things that we do we the numb them out. So we distract ourselves by doing something that we all do actually, we go on our phones a lot we start to scroll. Sometimes we might notice that when you feel it is an uncomfortable feeling is that you start to numb out in some way. Or the other thing that we can do is that we can choose to acknowledge it and we’re feeling something that’s not very nice and also acknowledge that it is a visitor and it will go will pass and it will pass quicker if we just if we can feel it and face it.

Nicole 

And you know, I haven’t scrolled on my phone for so long and then this situation of lockdown comes in at I am doing it every evening. I’m keeping myself awake doing it!

Sophia 

Yeah, it’s normal. I’m doing it as well. I’m finding myself I have two screens on most of the time! TV and my phone. It’s like double numbing out, because what we’re going through is really, really hard. So we’re feeling difficult feelings and obviously, add in your children’s difficult feelings on top of that it’s like an extra stress and pressure that we’ve all got. Something that we do in Treasure Time is that we teach about accepting all of the child’s feelings, not just the good feelings, but the bad feelings, too. And love to hear from you, Nicole, if you’ve got any examples of where accepting the children’s feelings has worked really well for you?

Nicole 

Yeah, there’s loads actually. I think the biggest thing that I found as an example that works really well from the treasure time course was the head, heart and hands skills, which wasn’t something that came naturally to me at all Sophia. I had to work so, so hard at it! And I hope that our listeners feel the same that they know about alone in this but I had to stop myself from talking about what should or shouldn’t going on.

So if the boys got sad or angry or frustrated, you know, somebody I remember, my heart broke but Harrison’s close friend at school wouldn’t let him play at breaktime. And it really got really got to me because I was like, “Oh, it’s okay”. I would automatically jump into it, okay but it wasn’t okay for Harrison, he was genuinely hurt by this. And, you know, I’m saying “Oh, there’s lots of other people to play with” etc but that wasn’t what mattered to him. He wanted to play with his little best friend, but then on the other scale, there’s a finding love and friendship there’s just that frustration that he gets a lot if he doesn’t get first if we’re all playing a game in the family. And that’s really annoying because he goes from 0 to 100 in terms of angry or frustrated because it’s not there.

So there’s so many examples, I didn’t realize how powerful it would be not to just paper over it with “it’s okay” but actually just trying to give him a big cuddle and being passively present. I found just sitting there and what I realised in those situations and notice basically, was comforting them actually helped me keep my own feelings under control because what I would do would be try to say it’s okay and all my feelings of hurt and upset about you know, the friend not playing with them, it would just all spill out. Whereas about being able to just kind of give him a hug and be quiet, let him saw what he had to say and listen to that and not tangle up the two feelings, I noticed that basically I was taking on the boys feelings and my emotions were rising and I was actually making the situation worse rather than helping them through moments. If that make sense?

Sophia 

Yeah it becomes hard to distinguish what’s yours and what’s theirs. And it’s very normal to get tied up in their feelings because we want to fix it for them.

Nicole 

Yes, that is exactly it and basically now I think I’m much better at recognizing in the heat of the moment, what is their feelings? And what’s my feelings? And it helps me just kind of learn with using the head, heart, hands skills that I can press that pause button and not get caught up in the chaos and then work through it. Which is really, really helped and it’s just made me feel way less responsible for their feelings ultimately.

Sophia 

Yeah, right? So it’s that thing again of almost allowing the child to lead coming home from our last podcast, you know, allowing the child to be responsible for their feelings. And not having to make them go away. That is not our job to make them go away. But it is our job to remind them that their feelings are just visitors and that they’ll come and go. We don’t have to do that with words. And that’s the other thing that I think parents need to know or that anyone that works with children needs to know, is that we can over talk to children in times like this.

Nicole 

Yeah, totally, totally. It’s just so hard not to just want to make them feel better. So you try to, words just spill out certainly for me sometimes! I talk too much, don’t listen enough. So for me and our listeners for what is actually accepting our children’s feelings look like in practice?

Sophia 

I think the first thing that we have to be aware of is about how much we’re talking. First of all, so if your child comes to you and is feeling angry, sad or frustrated, we have to be very mindful of being overly positive and just dismissing the feelings. So it can be really tempting to say “it will be okay”, or “there’s plenty of other children to play with” or “next time you’ll get to go first”, what you’re actually doing is just dismissing the real feelings that they have there and then. That’s the first thing to be to be mindful of. The second thing is that there’s a really great saying that is “When I’m drowning, don’t try and teach me how to swim”. Because in that moment, when a child is drowning in their feelings, it’s not the time to teach them a lesson. It’s not a time to say, “Well, I told you not to do that” or “Well, next time, you’ll have to do it differently” because all of those things is us trying to fix it. But actually to the children, it looks like us dismissing their feelings and their feelings are very real. You can’t argue against their feelings. You can’t say to somebody, well, you could if you said to somebody, “I feel really sad because I feel rejected” and then your friend said to you, “Well, let’s look at the facts and the evidence that says that you’re not rejected”, it’s not really going to make you feel very heard. And even though that person’s intention are good to help you to see things clearly and objectively, it doesn’t change the way that you feel. It actually just puts it a bit of a barrier between you and the other person, because it makes you think they don’t really understand me.

So our aim in accepting the child’s feelings is just literally that, is to accept them as they are not trying to change them. But what also we can do alongside the child is to help them to co-regulate their feelings. So if they’re feeling very sad, or very upset, very angry or frustrated, and they’re crying, what we try and suggest that parents do is come alongside the child and not really use that many words. So there are two ways that you can kind of deal with accepting the child’s feelings. There’s verbal, which is just to acknowledge and accept and say, “Yeah, I would feel like that too” or “I can understand why you feel sad and frustrated” and that it’s totally acceptable to say all of those things to your children. It’s totally acceptable to agree with their feelings because their feelings are real. You can’t argue against them. I think sometimes we worry that when we accept the feelings, we’re saying it’s okay to behave in certain ways, or it’s okay to have those feelings. But actually, that’s not the case, when we, when we’re acknowledging and accepting the feelings, we’re saying to the children that, that it’s okay that they feel real right now. But that won’t last forever. And as I said, feelings are visitors, they come and go, and when you can help the child to accept acknowledge the feelings, they actually move through much, much quicker, rather than becoming stuck, which is what we talked about before.

So that’s the verbal side of acknowledging feelings. But then on the nonverbal side, if you’re not sure what to say, and you think that actually saying something’s gonna make things worse, the best thing that you can do is either is use something nonverbal like a hug or touch or facial expression, if that’s appropriate in that moment, and obviously, you need to read the child in that moment. If the child is very angry and lashing out and frustrated, maybe the best thing you can do is just give them space, but stay nearby, so that when they all come and ready, they can come and be alongside you. And in that moment, you can give them a hug, or you can give them a touch, or you can say to them “It’s okay to feel frustrated.” And that’s a simple as it is, but it’s not easy.

Nicole 

It’s so simple but it’s so hard to do that sometimes actually because you’re own emotions can get tangled up in it. And that’s what we were saying earlier, it takes practice. It’s really, really great advice and I just loved hearing all that again because you don’t learn it as a one off it doesn’t work like that, it takes so much practice.

Sophia 

Yeah, really does. And it’s important also to acknowledge that our automatic parenting blueprint comes from our parents, and it comes from the way that we’re raised. So if we find ourselves acting in ways that we that we don’t like maybe or that we wouldn’t choose to do, it’s important to acknowledge that we’re probably just parenting in the way that we were parented ourselves. Or on the other extreme, the complete opposite. You know, sometimes people go so far away from the way that we’re parented that there isn’t really like a good balance of in-between. So that the only way that you can get better at this is to acknowledge and recognize your own behaviours and your own triggers and your own feelings.

Once we’re aware of those, it becomes much easier for us to recognize what’s ours, and what’s our children’s, and when we have separation is easier to accept the negative feelings. And something that we can get stuck into is only acknowledging children’s good feelings and happy feelings. Because when kids come to us with those, we love them. We’re like “Yay you’re happy, that’s brilliant!”, we want to see more of that. So sometimes we might even say things that are kind of unhelpful, like, “I love it when you’re happy”, because all that does actually gives the child a message that it’s only okay to be happy. And then they might start to squash those feelings down even further, which can cause lots of problems later on in life. We want to be able to accept and acknowledge all of the feelings that we have all of the time, and write them like ways acknowledging that none of them are permanent. They will come and they will go

Nicole 

I think it’s okay not to get this right straightaway, just you know, practicing it and giving it a go. So what I loved about trying all these tips out, is it’s so great to see that really small changes can make big differences quickly in the relationship.

Sophia 

Aboslutely it’s the smallest things that we can do these like subtle,shifts over time and it becomes second nature, doesn’t it?

Nicole 

Yeah, totally. And life just feels better and easier as a result, you know, because you’ve got this flow in understanding that you get each other. I’ve also started to share things like when I’ve been accepting Callums feelings or Harrison’s feelings that are really tricky, the bit that I didn’t expect it to happen in this process was recognizing and accepting my own feelings and sitting with thim.. So there is this double layer really going on in this sandwich, and I know we’re not here to talk about my feelings and parents feelings in general, this is about our children but they are related. It’s quite good to just pause and I started a little journal on the side to kind of just note down after each of my Treasure Time sessions. And it was really useful because I started to notice my feelings more, and how I reacted to things and which triggered more so I think it’s time to just be a bit playful and curious about all of this was, I’ve really enjoyed it, it’s been so helpful.

Sophia 

That’s great to hear. And it is, as you said, like it is ongoing work. All of this stuff is ongoing work and it’s awareness. And it’s learning that we will always be engaged with all the time, you don’t just learn it once and then it’s set. You have to practice it too. And but hopefully everybody who’s listening can try this one out and just try and feel more comfortable with accepting the feelings and not trying to change them. So just give it a go and see how it is and just keep practicing. I think you might find that actually your children start to move through feelings a little bit quicker. And maybe they come to you a bit more often and talk about how they feel. This can actually help to develop their emotional literacy as well. So it’s a really, really important one, but it does take work.

Nicole 

Absolutely.

Sophia 

So thank you so much for joining us for this episode. Next time, we’re going to be looking at the third principle of Treasure Time which is, is quite related to this actually, is about reflecting back your child’s feelings. So how you can actually do that. And obviously there’s more of this good stuff in the Treasure Time online course which can be found on our website.

Nicole 

So we really hope you’ve enjoyed this podcast and we’d love if you could post a picture of your play time this week on instagram and tag us @treasuretimeuk and don’t forget to put #treasuretime and you’ll be entered into draw to win the Treasure Time course and a year’s worth of membership, exclusive Facebook community where you can access lots of advice and weekly live Q&A’s with Sophia.

Sophia 

Thanks so much for listening, remember to click subscribe so you get notifications when our next episodes come out.

And we would love it if you could head over to iTunes and give us a lovely five star review and leave some words. We look forward to seeing you in the next episode!

Nicole

Bye!

Keywords

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