Parents bring their children to me for help with anxiety, low mood, sleep issues, tummy upsets, physical issues and symptoms caused by trauma, change or loss. In the early days of my work with children I probably tried a little too intensely to help them get from Point A to Point B. However I have learned over the years that an optimal level of “Presence” from me combined with letting go of trying to fix “the problem” actually opens the doorway for healing to unfold much more quickly.
“Presence” used in this context is a subtle state that I will attempt to explain, mainly because I believe that there are many situations in a child’s life where this state of Presence is called for. It allows much greater potential for the child to naturally return to a balanced state; body, mind and emotions. Perhaps the external problem still exists, but the child’s response to the problem is now much more resourceful.
To hold a state of presence you would likely be aware of your physical being, your emotional flow, the thoughts in your mind, aware of any rising anxiety in you when your child is telling you what’s troubling them…and also being more than this. Noticing and giving space, or as close to this state as you can manage.
I must say I am not always in this balanced state of attention with my own children. However I notice that if the need arises and I do sit with my child in a state of presence, that is not too intense and not driven by a need to fix the problem necessarily, a return to balance very often occurs.
If this idea is new to you one way to begin to tap into this state is to track your breathing, in the moment just notice your breath. Listen to your child and notice your breath. Don’t try to fix their problem, or tell them they shouldn’t feel sad, or angry. Just be with them, and as best you can give them your settled attention. Of course you can still talk with your child during this time, it’s actually your state of presence (or not) which speaks most loudly to them.
It may seem like you are doing nothing, that you are not helping at all. But in fact what you are doing is giving your child space, space to express themselves, space to complete an emotional process that was possibly still held in the body as stress. You are holding the space for restoration and regulation. Think of a spring that has been compressed too tightly, by holding present awareness with your child, the inner wisdom of their body can do its job and unwind, release previously held tension and restore balance.
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