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Emotions in a Child as Messages, What Can You Read From Them?


Holidays are a great time to observe children's behavior — their needs, the way they think about themselves and others, and how they experience emotions in various situations. What signals should worry us? What should you especially pay attention to? Replies Magdalena Sekowska, psychologist and psychotherapist and director of the Family Para Unit Clinic of SWPS University.

Summer is children's free time and it should be fun because there aren't any responsibilities of school like assignments, quizzes and homework. It is associated with rest, satisfaction, fun, learning through experience and cooperation.

Take a Look at Your Child on Vacation

Whether the holiday is a time of joy or tension depends on the mutual relationship between parents and children. It can also be an important indicator of what to change and what to pay attention to in the next year of responsibilities and obligations in school and family life, explains Sekowaska.

Holiday time is, however, a new context for parents and children. These are different conditions and surroundings, different people, slightly different parents and children interaction. Guardians should take a look at the children with curiosity. How my child thinks, what is he feeling? and what decisions he makes when he encounters difficulties. On the other hand, children watch their parents and gain experience.

It is a time to peek at one another and learn something new about yourself and loved ones. During the holidays it is important for parents to carefully observe their child and take interest as he comes into contact with the world and with himself. This means that the parent should not make assumptions about the child, but allows them to freely combine various impressions, intuitions and premonitions based on their observed behavior.

Based on what children do and do not do, how they behave, what they express, how they talk about it, parents can create a picture of certain tendencies in the child, his needs and ways of being in the world, says the expert.

Due to the specificity of time free from school duties, the parents can observe more of the child's spontaneous behavior and look at how the child copes in three aspects:

1. How they manage time, energy and activity.

2. How they function in the social world.

3. How they cope with various emotions


A Child Is the Owner of Their Energy and Time

When looking at a child, it is important to pay attention to how they spend time — what he does, how independent he is, how much he needs other people (peers or adults) to organize himself, and how much he still needs comments, participation or prompts from a parent or other adults.

Observing children means seeing the child in their rhythm, in strategies of action, in the way in which they relate to others. When we look at the child's time management, it is important to see if the child is able to organize their own time and how they react to "I'm bored" reflections. Is the child's activity determined by his motivation, willingness, need and intuition or by someone from the outside (mother, father or other important people from the environment). Or is the child able to organize their time in a variety of ways, related to being alone, with friends or colleagues and parents?

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A Child in the Social World

Holidays are a great field for our children to experiment with social relationships, making and maintaining relationships that are important and new. In a time that is different from organized activities, children learn how they are perceived by their peers, how they react to them themselves, what kind of contact they need and how they organize their own relationships.

During this period, there are more than everyday opportunities to observe the behavior of children, which are intuitive, spontaneous, showing their hidden attitudes. We can notice whether the child willingly participates in shared experiences, reacts with fear to new situations, or is able to enjoy a given situation despite difficulties.

It is important to observe the child in the whole spectrum of his behavior — being too dependent on others, being constantly with others is not good, as well as isolation and being alone.

Let's look at the child to see if their isolation is more of a choice or a fear of contact with others. Is their excessive activity towards others a desire to please others and succumb to them? Is the child able to behave very flexibly in social situations, to cooperate, but also to set limits to behaviors that violate their self-esteem?


Emotions as Messages

In the world of children and adults, emotions are messages about needs, about what is good and what we fear. They are natural responses to attack, defend, stick or freeze. When spending vacation time with children, parents have the opportunity to see how the child reacts to various situations, explains the psychologist.

A child's emotions are variable, which is natural because the situations he or she experiences are very unstable and varied. For parents, emotions that persist despite changing situations, such as constant sadness, anger or fear, can be signs of anxiety. Then it is worth looking at what is happening with the child, what they need and what they react like.

In our lives, emotions of anger, sadness, fear and joy are natural reactions to situations in life. Their inadequacy or persistence may be indicators for parents that the child is unable to cope with emotional regulation. And then an adult reaction is needed — to name emotions, experience them with the child and accept them.

The role of the parent is to prepare the child to go out into the world. Into a world that is diverse, unpredictable, safe, but also dangerous. It is important that they feel the reality of the surroundings and its possibilities.

Parents can provide feedback to the child on how they perceive them, what potential they see in them, how they see their coping in various situations, how they experience them. During the holidays, there are plenty of opportunities to talk to yourself in this way. So that the child hears and at the same time learns how much empowering power words can have. The strengthening and permitting, sums up Sekowska.

© 2022 Hamza Hussaini

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