Updated: Sep 11, 2021
‘Mummy, I’ve got a tummy ache’.
My heart sinks. Poor baby, what could she be worrying about this time? Has something happened at school? Is she worried about having a bad dream? It’s so hard when your child is overwhelmed by their emotions and so tempting to dismiss or ignore it in the hope that it will just go away. After all, we just want them to be happy and confident, enjoying the joy and innocence of childhood. But to expect them to experience no negative emotions whatsoever is unrealistic to say the least.
It may also be easy to assume they could be feigning illness just so they can stay up late or have a day off school but perhaps we can read between the lines. Now, my daughter and I have been on this journey for a little while now, so she knows that the sensation she is currently experiencing in her tummy is due to her current emotional state but for many children, their first indicator that something isn’t right with them is felt physically within the body. And for many, they are unaware of the link between these physical sensations and their thoughts and feelings. So as parents, the first step we can take is to support our children in recognising the signs and encouraging them to share those signs with us. Oftentimes, it may be a tummy ache, but emotions can also manifest themselves physically in the heart, the chest or the muscles, so listen carefully and acknowledge your child’s observations.
And now take some action. Ask your child what they need right now. Would they like a cuddle? Do they need a warm drink, a snuggly story or to listen to some soft, gentle music?
Being heard is in itself powerful enough for your child to already feel some relief from the intensity of their emotions and following up with a gesture such as a cuddle or a story is not only reassuring to your child, you are also showing them some of the positive steps they can take the next time they might be feeling like this. You are modelling positive coping strategies that could stand them in good stead for years to come. For us as a family, listening to a guided meditation in the evening has significantly reduced bedtime anxiety; we just pop one on after reading our stories and listen together. It's actually a beautiful thing to share.
So what gesture will you offer your child the next time they need it? Have you tried them with a guided meditation?
Sign up for a FREE soothing meditation that will help to calm your child’s worries, click here to get yours today.