I live in San Francisco in the heart of the city. We have a lot of homelessness including on our block where there are tent encampments, etc.
Last night my son (4 years) and I had a huge breakthrough with play listening. He was just about to go to sleep when he popped up with a burst of energy. I was calm, relaxed and open to seeing where this went as I leveraged by HIH tools. He spat at me (usually a huge trigger for me). I said, woah rain storm alert, let me get my umbrella. We then did light spitting and blowing air like a rainstorm back and forth for several minutes. He giggled and got a kick out of it. Finally he calmed down a bit and then started kicking me. We turned that into a game. Alas after another few minutes he took a HUGE sigh and snuggled into his bed. Then he started to open up. It turns out he was frightened by someone at a party we attended because he was African American which he connected to the homeless he sees of which sometimes folks are of that same color. We talked and talked about it and I shared that skin color does not determine one’s character … then he just melted into his bed peacefully. This morning he was such a joy … getting dressed, eating and out the door were a breeze.
I still feel though that we need to work through his fears. I would love to hear any ideas for role playing and how others have tackled issues like homelessness and not wrapped it into something bad or something to be scared of.
Thanks so much for your advice!
Hi Good Mama,
You are doing such beautiful emotional work with your son. I think you did just great! Now what’s left is for YOU to get some Listening Time. I see that you’ve reached out to set up some Listening Partnerships. That is just right!
It’s quite possible that your son is finished releasing this chunk of worry. Maybe. Maybe not. But it would be good for YOU to release any worry that he might still be worried. Sounds silly. but it will affect your connection with him if you are looking for him to release or looking for him to work on this.
Unless you see that this subject is affecting his willingness to leave the house, or go places, I think you really can follow his lead. You can trust his brilliant limbic system. Your connection is so strong and you are allowing him to release so much gunk, I have no doubt that he will feel safe to let you know if he needs to work on this some more.
In your Listening Time, you can work on your own fears. Your feelings about homelessness. Maybe your fears about bringing him up in a big city. Once you offload any tension or worry you have about this subject, you may notice that there are ways you could bring the subject of color or race or homelessness into your play. But it won’t be useful if you are feeling worried or you are looking for some result. That will make the play unsafe. does that make sense?
Larry Cohen, author of Playful Parenting and The Opposite of Worry is the expert on using play to help kiddos with anxiety. You might pick up his book, starting with this excerpt.
And this article is from Patty. She’s really talking about much bigger events than the daily homelessness that your son is witnessing, but some of her thinking may be helpful to you – especially in terms of how to keep talking about it.
Lastly, this article is just to reassure you that you are absolutely on the right track. You are thinking so well about this. All you need do now, is to get some emotional support for YOU!
Oh, I just found this teleseminar that could be helpful.
You are doing great, good Mama! Let us know how it goes…
Peace & Smiles,
Hand in Hand Certified Instructor
Conscious Child-raising Creating Cooperation and Peace
Follow me on facebook: Parenting by Connection with Kathy
“If we are to teach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with children” – Gandhi
Thanks so much Kathy!! I will report back. Still looking for a listening partner on PST time zone if you know anyone.
There are 3 Facebook groups where you can post for an LP. They get more activity than this board. If you give me the email associated with your FB account, I can invite you. One group is specifically for finding and nourishing Listening Partnerships.
You can email me at email@example.com if you are not comfortable posting here.
Peace & Smiles,