Last week I posted on Strategy #2 of The Whole-Brain Child, which is Name it to Tame It: Telling Stories to Calm Big Emotions.
But since I posted that blog I’ve had a few people ask me if I could expound on this strategy in more detail by giving an example. As I looked back at my post I can see where it would have been helpful to have written out the dialogue my kids and I have at times in regards to this strategy.
One of the great things about the book is that each chapter is filled with great diagrams and check sheets, as well as a part the authors call “integrating ourselves”, where they help parents connect the strategies to their own life and relationships.
My desire is that each blog post not only help you understand the strategies, but that ultimately you buy the book because I believe it will be that helpful and life transforming in your parenting.
So back to strategy #2.
Here is a great dialogue from the book first, then I will follow up with my own.
On pp. 31 we pick up on a story where a young boy named Jack had a scary bicycle accident, creating fear every time he thought about going back out on the bike again. So his mom Laura uses the strategy to help her son tell the story of the accident so he can better understand what he was feeling…she in essence is helping him connect both sides of his brain.
Laura: Do you remember what happened when you fell?
Jack: I was looking at you when we were crossing the street. And I didn’t see the grate of the sewer.
Laura: And what happened next?
Jack: My wheel got caught and the bike fell over on me.
Laura: And that was frightening, wasn’t it?
Jack: Yeah, I didn’t know what to do…I just went down in the street, and I couldn’t even see what was happening.
Laura: That must have been scary, to have something happen out of nowhere. Do you remember what happened next?
(pp. 31, 33)
Pretty straight forward. But as Siegel and Bryson write:
“When we can give words to our frightening and painful experiences–when we literally come to terms with them–they often become much less frightening and painful. When we help our children name their pain and their fears, we help them tame them.” (pp. 33)
My examples are not quite as eloquent, but here is an example from an incident recently when my son crashed on his scooter (I was out there watching him by the way).
Me: Are you okay?
My son: Daddy, daddy, daddy (he couldn’t formulate any other words).
Me: Are you hurt?
My son: Yes.
Me: Show me where you are hurt.
My son: (he doesn’t say anything but points to what hurt him..in this case the scooter. He rarely points to where on his body he was hurt).
Me: Can you show me what happened?
My son: (He climbs out of my arms and walks over to his scooter and demonstrates what happened).
I want to point out that at this point he had stopped crying. The very act of me not dismissing his accident and pain seemed to have validated his experience…which by the way, many boy’s experiences are unfortunately invalidated by parents or others who say to them things like, “Pick yourself up…be a man…stop crying…you are okay…don’t be a wuss.” But that is for another post, or pick up my book What it Means to be a Man to read more about that.
Me: Wow, that was quite the accident! That must have been very scary to crash like that.
My son: He nods his head in agreement.
Me: Do you want to keep riding your scooter or take a break?
My son: Keep riding.
I’m retelling an incident so I don’t have every nuance written out, and I wasn’t as calm as it may have come across in writing. But you get the idea.
Read the book and check out this strategy. It’s a great one.