I am just going to be honest and throw it out there and say that over the last 4 days we have watched A LOT of television.
More than we normally would, as both my daughter and I have been struck down with a nasty virus that saw us trapped and housebound for what seemed like an eternity! There have been moments when it was really draining – my child wanted to lay all over me for most part of every day as I wiped her nose and comforted her the best I could.
However, in amongst all of that there were also some incredible moments of absolute joy and tenderness. As we lay snuggled up in our enormous bed, our faces pressed together, we told each other all the things we loved about each other. We played dress ups and I pretended to be sick patient whilst she took care of me. When I coughed she asked me “Are you ok mama?”
Seeing her show empathy, compassion and kindness towards me whilst I was sick was indeed a moment to be cherished. It never ceases to amaze me how sometimes the crappy times in our life, turn out to be learning experiences for her – and of course constantly for me.
We have watched a few movies over the last couple of days. We are definitely in a movie phase and even though our daughter has shown an interest in television over the years, she has never been one to be obsessed with it or stare at it for hours on end. We have been fairly relaxed with television. When she asks to watch it we say yes, but monitor the duration and of course the content.
So we sat together snuggled up on the couch and watch The good dinosaur – a recent release by Disney about a little dino who loses his father down a flooding river, gets separated from the rest of his family and goes on an epic journey of self-development and discovery! Phew – so much for one little dinosaur to handle!
It was such an a incredible movie to watch with my child – there were so many opportunities to engage in conversations with her about feelings, and how scenes in the movie were evoking her emotions. Then there was the scene at the end where the dino’s accomplice must leave and go to live with another family. Talk about break your bleeding heart!
I looked at my child and could see her holding her emotions in. She looked at me and I was crying with tears running down my face. When she knows that I am sad she asks me “Are you happy now mama?” and I say “No darling I am sad and that is OK”
She then proceeded to burst into tears and we spoke about how incredibly sad it was that the little boy couldn’t stay with the dinosaur, but that he would be happy as he now had a new family to live with.
It was such beautiful experience to be shared between a mother and child. Holding onto each other in a moment of temporary sadness and teaching her how to understand what all of those feeling going onside her meant. Such a huge thing for her gorgeous little heart and developing brain to understand.
We had a similar occurrence when we watched Inside out, but this time it was the whole family crying. I loved the fact that my husband could cry openly in front of our child. He is teaching her so many things. That he too feels sadness on occasion and is not afraid to show it. We all had a big hug and talked about why we were sad and what had just happened. We spoke about the main character and why she was crying.
Too many times I have heard people say to children “Don’t feel sad” and try try to change the subject or give them a toy or food to distract them away from the emotion that is raging inside of them.
It’s just far too important that we acknowledge those emotions and teach our children what to do with them.
They are not to be feared or ignored.
They are not to be eaten away.
They are to be embraced and celebrated.
More importantly those times are to be used as an opportunity to teach your child emotional awareness and resilience. It is imperative that our children see us experience a whole range of emotions, and they will watch us to see how we react.
We are laying the foundation for them to be able to deal with strong emotions and difficult situations that they may encounter later in life as teenagers and as young adults.
I want my daughter to grow up knowing that she can come to me when she is older. I will always be there to hold her emotions and feelings safely and protectively as she navigates her way through the world.
And when she asks me “Are you happy now mama?” – I will ALWAYS tell her the truth.
Chaos to Calm Consultancy would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurung people of the Kulin Nation.We acknowledge the elders past, present and emerging - particularly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents who walked before us supporting and connecting their children to the earth, water and community. Always was. Always will be.