by Zack’s Mom
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. ~ Anais Nin
6. Getting yourself strong gets your child strong. Mirror your child’s feelings.
I have found that this simple process lets my son know first that he has been heard, and second that I believe him–something he won’t hear from his dad.
My narcissistic ex often told me that my thoughts or feelings were imagined, incorrect, or the result of my own confusion, and now he is doing that to my son. Mirroring is very simple, but deceptive in that it is also very powerful.
If my son says, “I hate transitions. I miss you and I don’t want to go to my dad’s house,” I say, “Transitions are really hard for you because you miss me. You hate them because you have to leave me.”
Mirroring is not about fixing, but about holding the child’s emotions. My son’s therapist tells me that this kind of interaction by a parent is descriptive rather than proscriptive, proscriptive being the kind of talk that contains a lot of “shoulds” and “don’t dos.”
His dad’s response might be something like “You shouldn’t feel sad. You will see mommy in a few days.” The child feels he has not been heard and over time, this shuts the child down.
~ My greatest moment came when my son was almost three. He told me, “Sophie [his cousin] hit me. I feel sad. What are my choices to feel better?”
When a child can identify his or her feelings, you can explore ways to address those feelings. Mirroring is the key.
Tomorrow Part 7