“This morning Bram asked, ‘Mama, what’s wrong?’: I think the kids are unsettled because of me.”
Amanda is in my practice and telling me how she’s argued with her partner, who was on a business trip, over the phone. It wasn’t possible to talk it out, so both of them had gone to sleep more or less angry. She at home, he in his hotel. The children were unsettled the next morning at breakfast. I notice that Amanda’s story and the reaction she got, is making me anxious too.
“It’s great that you realize that the children are picking up on your anxiety,” I say. “Now that you know it, you can change it.”
Stress is contagious
Fortunately, Amanda realized that her anxiety was also having an effect on the children. There are countless parents who don’t have that knowledge and are genuinely surprised that their children suddenly start being annoying, just at the unfortunate moment when they can’t deal with it, because they already have a lot on their plate. Stress is simply contagious. And I mean that literally. The stress response that takes place in your body can be toxic to the people around you. In the case of Amanda, Bram sensed that stress and responded. Not just with the question, ‘Mommy, is there something wrong?’: he knew very well that something was wrong.
Give your stress space
As a therapist I gave Amanda a valuable tip:
“The next time Bram asks, ‘Mama, what’s wrong?’, you can explain what’s on your mind. That way you regulate your own stress, and you’re no longer toxic, not even for your children. ”
I taught Amanda that stress can be good. Many of us have learned in the past as parents or adults that you shouldn’t make mistakes and show no negative emotions. ‘Don’t be silly’ and ‘Don’t air your dirty laundry’ were the ideals that many families had to meet. But stress is just part of life. It’s the way you deal with stress that makes the difference.
Rest is also contagious
If you have learned to properly regulate your own stress, you radiate that to your environment This happens when Amanda calmly explains to Bram: “Mom and Dad had a little quarrel over the phone last night. And a fight will only be all right again if you can give each other a hug. But because Dad isn’t home yet, it’s not possible yet. So, Mom is a little sad about that.” The opposite also works; denying your own stress response to your children, for example, teaches them to do the same.
But – and this is actually even more important – Amanda became more settled during my coaching while we were in session. When I noticed that I was getting restless during our conversation, I regulated my own stress well, and I became calm. That also made Amanda quieter. This technique is one of the many techniques from the “Embodied Therapy & Coaching” method.
Effortless coaching with a powerful method that works deeply
When you learn how, as a therapist, you can help the client at a deeper level through bodywork, you coach effortlessly. Embodied Therapy & Coaching gives you tools that you can not only use in your practice, but that also help you in your daily life. For the moment your own children ask: ‘Mommy, what’s wrong?’
Do you want to learn these skills as a coach or therapist? Then you’re very welcome at the (Dutch) training. For current start dates and times you can visit this page.