Non Absentee Dad

Big Events

In Uncategorized on August 15, 2009 at 5:05 pm

A while back we—my wife—had a doctor’s appointment and had told our two year old as much. Problem solved! When we got there he seemed happy and unconcerned. We went to the Radiology department, for a sonogram of my wife’s gallbladder, and she had to leave through the door that closed and we couldn’t follow. Problem not solved!
I had forgotten a key concept in helping our children to deal with emotional situations. The concept of “Giving them Words.” Why is this necessary?  This is necessary because we learn largely by example and our brains are pattern matching machines. In this specific instance my 2 year old needed help in understanding what was going on during this big event. Left to his own it was just as if mom had disappeared and wouldn’t return while bad things happened to her. Not a comforting situation to a two year old.
Now that I had been smacked in the head by the broken-hearted, banshee wail of my son, I got my act together quickly. I explained that mom was going to have a big camera—complete with appropriate hand gestures— placed on her belly and a picture taken. I assured him she was safe—a word he was previously introduced to—and repeated this a few times. Full meltdown averted. The idea of the camera stuck and it was all he could talk about, relaying it to mom when she returned.
Why did this work? First off this would have worked better if before we got there I had explained the situation in the above terms. However, this worked because I used words/concepts my 2 year old understood e.g camera, safe. I used big expressive gestures to convey some emotionality similar in “bigness” to his emotional state. In the end this allowed him to come to his own, non-traumatic, understanding of “what happened to mommy.”

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  1. What a great insight into the way little kids think and feel. Well done.

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