I’ve just come back from spending the day painting with my cute little Niece, Mia. At 5, I think it’s amazing how she brings out the best in me. And me, well I’m not so sure. Today, I taught her how to sing ‘I like big butts and I cannot lie!’
You can get away with that stuff when you are an Auntie. Can’t you? I made her laugh lots and we had great fun……
Until it was time to go home
Whenever, it’s time to go home, we joke a lot about how long it takes to say goodbye.
We often refer to it as ‘100 goodbyes’ because I’m not very good at saying goodbye.
I’m not very good with endings
Unless they are of Disney World-happily-ever- after proportions. I’m not very good at things being left without endings.
Unfinished things. Life is full of those isn’t it?
- I don’t like the end of the day and will often stay up later not wanting tomorrow to come
- I don’t like ending relationships no matter how much they have hurt me or past their sell by date
- I don’t like the end of a book or movie
- I don’t like the end of a holiday
- I don’t like it when my alarm goes off and I have to say goodbye to my bed
- I don’t like transitioning from home to work. I need time. I need time to prepare myself and get ready
And I feel like I haven’t got time. I feel like time is slipping through my fingers and I want more of it and yet, I don’t appreciate what time I have got.
Life is full of unfinished relationships, conversations and experiences. There is a one certainty in life though isn’t there? Apart from the sun rising and setting every day. Sorry to be a little ray of Smiley sunshine, popping up on your screen with this very obvious fact of life which isn’t one we want to think about too often. We know one day we will not be here, but we don’t know when that will be. What we do know is:
We can make the most of anything before it ends
Could that be why we rush around fearing that we may run out of time to have our happy ending? Think about it though. There isn’t a good way to end anything. Endings are difficult no matter how much we want them. Starting again is exciting but it can be oh so scary not knowing what lies ahead.
Does it really have to end?
instead, could life be a series of chapters or episodes or magical moments that we can choose to revisit if we want to (even if it’s only in our heads), but they don’t have to be so final. I blame Walt Disney for this (as well as some pretty awful parenting role models) because , he wrote ‘THE END’ in massive letters at the end of every brilliant movie he ever wrote. Can you imagine how traumatising this was for me?!!! It wasn’t about me was it? This was probably to let everybody know that we could stop crying tears of joy at his happy endings and go home and put the kettle on. (that’s what British people do when they cry a lot. DON’T EVER RUN OUT OF TEA!)
Not all endings are sad though are they?
And you always have the power to write your own happy ending. I could rock out more cliches here – like every cloud has a silver lining…but I’ll stop that now because you know what I’m trying to say. Don’t you?
So a ‘goodbye’ is a ‘good’ experience. It’s not a ‘badbye’ is it? We learn through healthy and secure attachments with our parents that when they go away, they say ‘goodbye’ and they come back again. We have a positive connection with being left and with endings.
Children who are not securely attached to their primary caregiver – often the Mum (and there can be a whole host of reasons around that – none of them are anybody’s fault, often they are circumstantial) struggle with being left. So transitions, goodbyes and being alone are something which they are challenged with on a daily basis.
When I was younger I suffered with separation anxiety
I didn’t know what it was until I was older. I thought I had asthma. When I went away on school trips or sleep overs, I would have an asthma attack and they would call the Doctor out to me. We looked at changing my pillows and allergies. I grew out of it eventually. Looking back, I didn’t have a transitional object, like a teddy or a blankie or something to take with me when I was away from home. Did you have a transitional object? Does your child have one?
So moving from my safe space to an unknown space was like riding without my stabilisers. How flipping scary was that for a small person? I must have been a lot braver than I realised. Lots of children are more resilient than we know.
Add into the mix that I was also insecurely attached. In fact, my Mum was my transitional object. I was enmeshed with her. We’ll talk about that another day but for the purpose of this blog post, I grew up thinking I couldn’t breathe without my Mum. This is what we call a co-dependent relationship (and it’s very common in families where there has been or is active addiction or mental illness) or where parents haven’t looked at their childhood wounds. It’s very unhealthy for the development of a child and also keeps the Mum from looking at her stuff – the focus is always on the child and their problems.
Come back + finish what you started
Ironically, I have a compulsion to finish everything I start. Maybe that’s because I have anxiety and suffer with OCD? Or maybe that’s the entrepreneur in me which is driven to do a good job and get my work done so I can share my message with the world?
You know what my message is don’t you? You know I want children to not feel alone with their stuff and be emotionally intelligent enough to bounce back from life’s curve balls, challenges and disappointments.
This was one of my curve balls and I have learnt how to manage it.
It hasn’t completely gone away.
Children who have an anxious temperament
These children are sensitive to their environment and they can become overwhelmed by big crowds or rushing from one thing to another. They respond well to:-
- having a secure connection with you. Carve out daily time to nurture that emotional loving connection. My new eBook ‘Rediscover the Magic of Parenting in a Busy World’ can help you with this.
- plenty of time to make transitions
- information in advance and an understanding of what is happening
- quiet or down time time every day
- learning to relax and having a solid bedtime routine
- reassurance that they are going to be OK – never sneak out without saying goodbye. They need to learn that when they hear goodbye and somebody leaves, they are coming back
- routines and rituals
- a transitional object (something which symbolises the connection between the two of you)
- a family photo
- one of your scarves – well worn so it has that much needed Mummy smell
- a t-shirt you’ve slept in
- a friendship bracelet (I love this one by Lily Belle)
- a crystal (you get a bag of these in Smiley’s Little Box of Kindness)
- a love letter from you (great if your child’s love language is words. If you don’t know what your child’s love language is, then you can read more about that here
- consistency and trust – if you are late make sure you communicate what has happened and reassure your child about what they will do if you get stuck in traffic or are late again (sh1t happens, people are late so don’t beat yourself up, but be empathetic to your child’s needs and expectations).
The second part of this blog post looks at what you can do to deal with the clingyness that separation anxiety brings. This bit is just as important as the first because your energy, your blue print for love, your attachment style and other things will have an impact on your child.
If you found this blog post useful and you would like me to help you and your child, please book your free 20 minute call with me to see if that would be right for you.