My daughter turned eleven last week and with that celebration she announced to me that she was officially a tween. I cringed a bit because I find that word so ambiguous, a word that in my mind means in between without a center and the hollowness of the word made me uneasy. Yet, it is this time in an adolescent’s life where everything is changing, feels unfamiliar and they are stepping from their child like understanding into a new space which seems foreign.
Yes, their body is starting to change as well as their chemistry for which there are a myriad of resources to find that explain the why and what is next. However, what I have found challenging is finding the resources to help support her through the emotional space that is the under current and foundation for what is to come and what is already here.
Over the last two years I have had to navigate the anxiety she is feeling which has come from entering this foreign space where she has started to discover that the world is bigger than just her, that there is suffering in the world, and the smallness that comes with this knowledge has led to fear, to sadness and also new passions and sense of wonder.
As we delved into the thick of her emotions over the last two years, and they keep changing and are becoming bigger, I have started to reflect back on my own youth and where certain fears I still carry came from. My pre-teen years are a time where I often felt alone, disconnected and the need to blend in for fear my voice was too big. I don’t remember my parents being open to discussing the deep emotions that I was feeling because in reality they themselves did not have that support when they were ten, eleven, twelve and beyond. This was the time I stopped playing for fear of being seen as a “baby”, this is when I struggled to understand what I feeling and that lead to constantly feeling embarrassed and or ashamed of my emotions.
I know I don’t want to pass this void on to my daughter so over the last two years I have started to find tools and rituals to help her connect with herself, her heart, and express her ideas, her feelings and her frustrations openly.
These tools I want to share with you so that we can help this generation learn to love their emotions and connect with them deeply so that they can safely connect with friends and family and feel fully supported.
Energy Connection is where we started.
Yoga Nidra is a type of deep relaxing meditation where you do a body scan while lying down. Here is the one we used to the most.
We would do this at night for it helps to calm and connect the mind and to body so that it can process, relax and release information from the day.
I also got certified in Reiki which is not something everyone desires to do but for us it turned out to be a powerful tool that really helped my daughter clear energy from her body that wasn’t serving her and dissipated some deep fears that were interrupting her sleep. For those unfamiliar with Reiki it is a healing technique based on the principle that the therapist can channel and move energy into and through the patient by means of touch, to activate the natural healing processes of the patient's body and restore physical and emotional well-being.
Mindful Connection is another tool that we use daily. For us this is another nightly ritual. My daughter needs touch, she craves it but she also craves and needs mindful connection.
So every night we share one thing that was great about our day, one struggle from our day and one thing we are grateful for. Often times, after this is when we have our deepest conversations. This simple ritual sets the stage for discussions in an intimate setting where she can unload all that is bottling up. I can being full aware and focused on her and allow her to voice her questions, insecurities and sadness. This has allowed her to connect to her emotions and get clarity that she seeks. Sometimes all I do is listen and that is all she needs and other times a conversation happens where we both learn and understand something new.
The third ritual we have started to incorporate is that of Play Time. This is different, yet similar to when she was a toddler and young child and I would sit down and play with her. Now, the play comes in the form of board games, dance parties or signing karaoke. I know life is busy and often times she comes home and goes straight to her room to chill which is needed too. But, as these children are navigating their emotions and their desire to be more independent they need a container in which they can still play and be young, where they can feel seen and heard and where they can connect. We have time every night after dinner for this and often times this is where we laugh the hardest.
Laughter is such good medicine and we all need more of it!