Hello Forest Friends Families,
I hope you are all taking good care this week. As these very saddening and confusing times continue, I would like to offer guidance as to how to help children calm down from difficult emotions, such as anger and sadness, through Somatic Experiencing. Somatic relates to the body, especially as distinct from the mind. Somatic Experiencing is an alternative therapy that focuses on perceiving uncomfortable sensations in the body to work through difficult emotions.
For instance, say a child approaches a parent/caregiver with anger about a friend taking their toy. While teaching them about sharing is very important for the child, Somatic Experiencing and Mindfulness instructors also advise to encourage kids to explore how their anger feels in their body rather than keeping them attached to their story. You can start with “it seems like you’re feeling frustrated.” Then ask, “Do you feel the anger in your belly, or hands, or face? Do you feel warm or cold? Or if they are sad, you may ask, “Do you feel sad in your heart?” “Does your body feel heavy or light?” Then you can invite them to put a hand to where it hurts (for example, a hand on the cheek for face), take deep breaths with them, and/or comfort them in their familiar ways. While they may not be able to identify feelings in this bodily way at first, it is a validating conversation for their emotions. This method is not about getting rid of the emotion as quickly as possible, but naming the body’s discomfort and leaning into it, which in turn has a natural easing effect on their discomfort. It gives children greater understanding that emotions are transient, allowing them to become more adept at making skillful choices in response to them. The more awareness children have of their bodily sensations, the more easily they can develop self-regulation skills.
For more information, this article from Mindful Schools’s website is a great resource: https://www.
mindfulschools.org/ inspiration/somatic- activities-for-kids/
Let me know if you have any questions or would like to explore Somatic therapy with me further.