Posted: 12/1/2022 12:00:18 AM by
Natalie Nordlund, EdS, NCSP, Consulting Intern, Coordinated Care Services, Inc.
Oftentimes, it may be difficult for thoughts and emotions to be identified, fully understood, and communicated. It can be a very vulnerable and nerve-wracking experience to share about and show oneself to others, for fear of being judged, viewed negatively, or even hurt. It may be incredibly difficult to talk about emotionally painful and traumatic experiences aloud even if one wants so badly to tell someone. Where all these experiences can be difficult for adults, they can particularly be difficult for children.
Since I began working as a school psychologist, I have come to realize that the way many children have been most able to express their inner world with me—their thoughts, feelings, experiences, and view of themselves and the world—has often not been through solely engaging in conversation with me, if at all. Rather, it has often been through other forms of expression that work well for them and feel comfortable and safe to them, utilizing their own strengths, interests, and personal preferences for creative self-expression to share.
I have found that although a child may struggle to tell you aloud how they are feeling, through watercolors they may paint their feelings through painting the entirety of their paper in grey, along with black rain clouds hovering along the top edge with black rain falling heavily down the page. They may then choose to tell you about their inside weather, but if not, they were nevertheless brave enough to show you.
I have found that a child may not initially feel comfortable telling you about themselves, but when given magazines, scissors, glue, and a sheet of construction paper, they may produce a beautiful collage of carefully selected cutout images, with meanings attached to them you could attempt to imply but still have yet to discover until they share with you. They may then choose to tell you what each individual image means to them, which may include their favorite things, fond memories, and people they love and who they wish were still with them.
I have found that a child may independently choose alternative ways to tell you about experiences that have been incredibly difficult, stressful, or traumatic for them, such as depicting them through artwork, showing you through the actions and dialogue of toys during play, storytelling with utilization of characters and metaphors, or even performing a stand-up comedy routine.
I have found that while vulnerable conversations may be difficult to have, a child may choose to instead communicate through poetry or through song.
Our children have a lot to say, and it is up to us to ensure they are truly and fully heard, even if not in the traditional way we may tend to assume.