Clearing Out Some Yuck

I was reminiscing about a spring festival we attended years ago (maybe because we were recently in a spring of no festivals). My older daughter, then around three years old, was having fun exploring an outdoor fair when a big kid accidentally ran into her. I saw the expression on her face fall, and she ran over to me, crying, "Mama, mama."

She asked me to "go away from here," which I took to mean away from the other kids who were looking. So we found a little shady corner, and she sat on my lap, and cried and cried some more. I just held her, I didn't need to say much, as I wanted her to have her feelings and not get back into the cognitive part of her brain until she was done shedding her feelings. I had a feeling that this was about more than the run-in; we had been dealing with some stress related to extended family, and she also had had a very busy week. She was beat.

She buried her face in my chest as she was crying, which was fine, but I made a point to try to have her look in my eyes occasionally too...I wanted her to see my warm regard for her, to be able to see my loving attention. (This approach to listening to children's feelings is called "staylistening," and I learned it through my training by Hand in Hand Parenting.)

Luckily, I was able to sit there with her until her crying slowed and then eventually stopped. Then a friend came over, and he wanted to visit a tractor in the playground with my daughter, and she thought that, yes, that was a good idea. And for the rest of the afternoon, things were easy and really fun between us. She had shed some of the "yuck" inside and cleared space in her mind.