A few weeks ago, we were heading to our best-friend’s house for a special social distanced get-together and to meet their gorgeous new doggie. We were all excited about it, even both children, who are quite nervous around dogs, were eager to meet the new family member.
However, just as we were leaving the house our 6YO said he needed to talk to us. He wanted to tell us that he was feeling very nervous about meeting his besties new pet. We talked it through, understood his worries and explained that he would be safe and agreed we would still go. We also told him how proud we are of him that he talked to us. No matter how big or small the worry, talking can help ease the nerves.
When we arrived, 6YO was visibly nervous and wanted us to keep him off the ground (3YO copied for dramatical effect) as the pup wandered around. We quickly realised this may not be the relaxing afternoon we had foreseen, yet agreed it was unfair to keep the pup locked away, 6YO would have to face his fear. He did make progress throughout the afternoon and became (slightly) more comfortable around the puppy (3YO switched it on and off depending on mood).
It did make me chuckle that when we got in the car to go home, the 6YO became quite upset because… “I never got the chance to become friends with Cooper (the puppy)”.
Although it can be frustrating when we are unable to fully settle our children’s nerves (my patience did start to wear thin after another high-pitched squeal) , the most important thing is he never stopped communicating with us, he did not stop telling us how he was feeling, so we were then able to support him through that.
Since then there have been a couple of unexpected meetings with dogs and he has been the most relaxed I have seen him in a long time. Even he has commented on how he hasn’t felt scared.
…and he keeps talking.
This week we are at our caravan and 6YO has been playing games on the PlayStation (I’m still not convinced he is old enough, but Daddy assures me it is fine). There was an incident a few days ago when he became upset during a game as some ‘zombies’ unexpectedly appeared on the screen and startled him. We switched off immediately.
The next day when I was reading bedtime stories, he asked if he could tell me something. He then started to explain why he had become scared playing the game the day before and that he had been thinking (on the verge of worrying) about it all day. We then worked through his worries, normalised them, talked about how we can let them go and praised him for talking. We agreed he should no longer play games that do not make him feel comfortable or cause him to worry about anything.
Today he asked me if he could play the game again, he now realises it is not real life and is no longer worried about it. I assessed the situation and agreed he can play. Avoidance would not help him in this situation.
That is the power of Talking. Once again, our 6YO teaches me and reaffirms the importance of the Talking Tool.
He felt a little bit silly that a puppy and a computer game had made him worry, yet instead of letting those things eat him up and manifest into full blown anxiety, he talked about it. He let it out. By doing so those nerves and worries reduced. I know so many grown-ups who would benefit from doing the same.
Talking about how we feel is so important. Please do it. Do not stop doing it. Never feel like a burden. Never feel like it is too little or too silly... or to serious, or too big!
As our 6YO would say “Talking to you about stuff is good for me”.
If you are reading this and feel you need to talk but do not feel you have someone you can trust to talk to, or for some reason you feel like a burden, there are a number of local and national helplines that can help you. These can normally be found quite easily with a quick search online.
Have a wonderful day 💫