Today my boys headed back to school.  Everyone was excited (especially me)!   However when we arrived in the new classroom, with our lovely new teacher, I could see that for one of my sons, that excitement turned into overwhelm and fear.

Cultivating flora and fauna has not been a strength of mine.  Last year I was given a plant and I decided that 2020 was the year I mastered keeping plants alive and thriving.  I acquired lots of different plant cuttings, all with different requirements.

I had to learn about how much water, sun and pruning each individual plant needed.  I often felt out of my depth and one plant didn’t make it.  I thought it was a hardy plant, but on the inside it was more delicate and sensitive than I had realised.  I learnt a great lesson from that plant. 

Just like plants, each child has unique needs.  This morning my twins epitomised this.  One confidently strutted into the classroom, while the other was the complete opposite.

Children often have big feeling and need support processing these.  When they are feeling emotions for the first time, they are often not sure of what they are feeling or how to proceed.  It is important that we validate and acknowledge these feelings.  Then come up with a game plan on how to move forward in partnership with our child.  This takes practise, patience and empathy. 

I grew up in a culture that didn’t validate ones feelings.  I think most of us can relate to being told to stop crying and to get on with things and then feeling more lost, anxious and uncertain.  So for me learning to acknowledge and validate my children’s feelings was not something that came naturally, but this was a learnt skill and a skill that I work on everyday to improve upon.

As my son was cuddled in my arms, tears rolling down his cheeks, I decided to take a moment to acknowledge and validate his feelings and make a plan to move forward.

“I can see you are feeling overwhelmed and scared about your first day in a new classroom.  Is that how you are feeling?”

He nodded.  

“It is hard sometimes coming into a new place, with new people isn’t it? There are so many new things to get used to. What can we do to make you feel more comfortable? Can we find some friends to play with?” 

He nodded. And before I knew it he was off playing with a buddy happily waiving me goodbye. 

Like a little plant cutting, nurturing our children’s emotional needs is vital if we want them to grow confident in who they are and resilient to take on new challenges.