Nicole Daspit of Inner Discovery Invites Kids to Explore Thoughts and Feelings
How were your holidays? Hope you had some good times with your kids! My family had some really joyful moments and our share of stressful moments, too. We juggled family gatherings, holiday expectations, a trip to Yosemite, and that rather delicious but often dicey thing called “unstructured time.”
Something interesting happened when we were at a lodge in Yosemite that got me thinking about stuff kids (and we adults too!) need help with. The fire alarm went off twice, once around 10 in the evening, and again at 1:30 am. It was a very loud, extremely irritating sound as it should be, but having never really heard one at a hotel, it was unnerving. It was even more upsetting for our son who has sensory integration issues. He became very agitated and his heart rate was elevated, but eventually, when we learned it was a false alarm, he was able to calm down and go to sleep. When it happened again, it shocked him out of bed. He was shaking and angry and scared all at once. It was very hard to convince him that it was a false alarm this time. Even though we called the front desk and got confirmation that there was no danger, he no longer believed it was all “okay”. He didn’t get to sleep until almost 4 in the morning!
I was thinking about how challenging it is when we are in the grip of a difficult feeling to be talked to “rationally” by others. We explained to our son that he was in no danger, that everything was fine now, but in his body and mind, he felt a very real danger. We want our children to feel better when we see them suffering. So, often we try to talk them out of their feelings or show them logically why their fear is unwarranted – all of which I have done more than once. But, as I was sitting with my son that night, I really saw how the message of “Don’t feel that!” is seriously unhelpful! Anyone who is afraid to fly or speak in public knows on one level that there is no serious threat but that doesn’t mean our bodies and minds don’t have the feelings they do.
Having sensory integration challenges is one thing, but how many times a day do we and our children also have emotions and troublesome thoughts that arise in response to something which on the surface seems totally irrational? How can we support our kids in noticing what they feel and working with their emotions without suppressing what comes up or making it wrong? How can we help kids learn how to identify their feelings and empower them to take positive actions that will allow them to move through an emotion?
With that in mind and considering the suggestion of a friend, I am offering an afternoon workshop for kids which can begin the lifelong process of learning how to work with difficult thoughts and feelings. (Although, come to think of it, if they learn some skills now, maybe they won’t have to struggle for the rest of their lives like most of us did!) I have shared feelings awareness tools in after school enrichment classes in various Sonoma County schools and I have found that once kids learn the basic language of feelings and the various ways those emotions can feel in the body, they can begin to make sense of their inner landscape. It becomes less confusing and overwhelming - way more understandable. They can often do this more quickly than adults! They also learn to become compassionate towards themselves instead of self-critical and recognize when others are likewise suffering. Often, kids even know what they need in order to move through the feeling. Each child has within him/herself the ingredients to reconnect to good feeling. With some tools, a little space and support, it is amazing to see how creatively they ease their distress and find solutions for themselves!
Upcoming Inner Discovery for Kids Events
Saturday January 21
1-4 pm, for ages 9-12 $45
Location: ID Classroom in Sebastopol, CA
call 874-8104 or e-mail to register
This will be an afternoon of exploring what goes on in our minds and bodies and how to work with, rather than resist or fight, what we experience. We will use art, drama and journaling as a means to learn about ourselves and how to:
* name and identify the “usual culprits” (aka difficult feelings)
* shift out of negative thoughts and pictures
* help our bodies feel better
* reconnect to ourselves
Inner Discovery Workshops always include circle time, creative expression, guided meditation, a wholesome snack and usually some spontaneous happening that is fun and/or meaningful to the group. To learn more about our programming please visit: Inner Discovery for Kids on Facebook or our website: innerdiscoverykids.com.
More About Nicole Daspit
Nicole offers classes, camps and private sessions designed to support children’s creativity, self-acceptance, emotional understanding and playful imagination. Nicole taught at Brush Creek Montessori, River Montessori, Mary Collins School and homeschool groups in Sonoma County. She lives in Sebastopol, CA.