Geo is Max’s best friend and lives only a few houses away.
“Max, Geo really wants you to come over, can you please go over there?
“NOOOO, I will only go over there if you go with me. For the rest of my life you have to go over there with me. I will NOT go alone ever again.”
“Ok, Can you please tell me why you don’t want to go over there? It sounds like something might have happened while you were over there. Can we talk about it.”
After a little more prodding and gentle digging, I got to the bottom of it. From what I pieced together, Max had been playing a pirate game on the couch with two of his friends. One of them pushed him off the couch and he fell down and hit his head. “Neither you or Daddy were there and I didn’t like it” he cried as he retold the story.
“Wow, that sounds like it hurt, and it sounds like you were really sad that you couldn’t be comforted right away by me or Daddy”
“Yes it didn’t feel good and I don’t want to go there ever again with out you”
We went on to talk about how Mama and Daddy are not going to be able to always be there for him, but that we always put him with adults that we trust and that we know will comfort him and take care of him if something happens. And that he can always ask to call us. We then talked about what he could do if situations like that ever came up again.
It was amazing to see the switch in his demeanor go from super charged and full of anxiety, to calm and problem solving oriented. By being able to retell this story, he was able to process some pent up emotions that were creating a trauma loop in his brain and body.
A few weeks earlier I would probably not have been able to figure this out, but luckily I’d started reading “Whole Brain Child” by Dan Siegel and Tina Bryson in hopes to gain some tools to help me understand my ever changing boys and what they were going through. The book is easy to read, gives great explanations and examples that I started to immediately put into action. The above is what Dan and Tina call the “connect and redirect” method. After reading about it and witnessing how well it worked with Max, I started to look into my own stories and see how this same method could help me.
Back in September at World Championships, I realized that my team and I had actually done this method with out even knowing it.
It was day 4 or 5 of the race, and we were about to finish what had been a challenging leg for us. We had gotten confused by a checkpoint and two teams passed us while we were figuring it out. Instead of holding on to our focus and “racing our own race”, we started to fall apart as a team. You could almost taste our disappointment. We were not blaming each other, but you could feel that our team “stoke” had popped. We all tried not to talk about it, but that only made it worse. After getting lost at the next CP, we called a team meeting. For 20 minutes we talked and cried. We each were able to tell “our stories” both from past experiences and what we were feeling in the present moment.
After our talk, our whole energy changed, instead of each individually drowning in our own thoughts, we were physically and emotionally lighter, we were going faster. We were working together and we were once again, a unit. A few hours after our talk, as we were walking towards the transition area, I was able to talk through some old story loops that weren’t serving me anymore. I still remember the feeling as we finished that leg. Even though we still had 24 hours more of racing (at least), I felt light.
Now as I am almost done reading this book, I am seeing that I am not only learning how to parent my kids, but I am also learning how to reparent myself. I am excited to continue to use this method along with many other methods on myself, on my other relationships and of course on my boys. Learning about our brains and how they grow and change is so fascinating.
Have you read any parenting, brain or communication books that you love? Please, tell me what and why you love it! Every year, I try to read a few books on parenting. Last year my favorite read was “Hunter Gather Parent” but Michaeleen Doucleff- the jimmy jammy monster, clothes monster and teeth critters are still very much alive in our house and “acomodito” is a daily word that has changed our relationship with cleaning up and toys in general drastically.