Talking Out Loud
Helping children to make sense of the world can be intimidating at times and we may find ourselves saying things like ‘stop’ and ‘no’ without helping to make sense of why. This may in turn miss the opportunity to help children develop emotional and relational intelligence.
Putting an emotional language around experiences, as well as narrative and discussion will promote a child’s ability to do this for themselves and encourage them to think about others.
Creating Curiosity in a Child’s Mind
Here are some examples of what could be helpful and how to consider being alongside young children:
Instead of saying ‘be careful’ promote awareness by saying:
Can you see… The stinging nettles? The edge of the path?
Try moving… your arms in this way, your feet fast
Do you feel… safe on that rock? The heat from the fire?
Notice how… the rain has made this slippery, that seat is broken
Can you hear… The river? The cars going past?
Growing a Mind
A parent’s role is to help shape and grow a child’s mind. This is also, ultimately, the role of psychotherapy.
Help children to problem solve by saying:
What is your plan… if you climb that ladder? Move that log
Where will you… put that bucket? hide that toy?
What can you use… to get over there? For your adventure?
Who will… be with you? Help you?
How will you… get down from there? Get across? Get up?
Instead of saying ‘don’t cry’ promote emotional intelligence by saying:
I wonder if… you feel scared? You feel annoyed?
Sometimes our feelings… get hurt, feel tricky
Maybe you need to know… what happened? What we can do to make it ok?
Are you feeling… In your heart? Your tummy?
I am here for you… with your big feelings, when you are hurt
Help children to make sense of others by saying:
What did you notice… About what happened? What was said?
How did you feel… about him/her?
What would you say… to them now? About that?
What did you notice about how they… spoke with you? Listened to you?
Did you see… that smile on their face? That frown?
It is often fun to be open, playful and curious when talking to children and we can help them to build a positive, resourceful and resilient sense of who they are and how they see others through the gentle encouragement of open dialogue and reflective thinking. Talking out loud about their inner and outer worlds is how we help children grow their minds.
Gemma Hurley is an an Integrative Child Psychotherapist who works alongside families, young adults and children from our Lewes and Hove Practices. To find out more or to arrange an appointment, please contact us here.