Robert Seith | CWK Network
“A lot of it’s sort of feeling. You know like, I feel like something’s going on with her, and she can’t really put it to words.”
- Ann Sencer, mother -
Up until the age of 6, Rachel saw her parents fighting almost constantly. “I was kind of scared to be in this household sometimes,” says Rachel, now 11.
“What really was the final straw of the marriage was when she got in the middle between us, you know when there was rage going on, and she put her hands up and went ‘STOP,’” says Rachel’s mom Ann Sencer.
Divorce ended the fighting, but the trauma of six years of family bitterness stayed. Rachel often had an upset stomach and trouble sleeping. “That sort of signaled to me that stuff was going on, and we talked to her pediatrician about it, but she wouldn’t talk,” says Mrs. Sencer.
“Like, she would try to ask me … I’d always be like ‘I don’t want to talk about it,’” says Rachel.
But experts say unless a child does talk, their pain can lead to depression, anxiety or withdrawal. “It undermines their own sense of security in the world around them,” says Dr. George Hughes, psychologist.
Experts say that’s where a method called emotion coaching comes in. It starts with parents anticipating what their child may be feeling and suggesting words that fit: afraid, angry, alone.
“If they get a word that really fits, it connects up with the true emotion inside. It’s really helpful to them. They’ve got a tool now that they can begin to share with others. People understand what they’re talking about,” says Dr. Hughes.
“As she was able to put words to things, she was able to accept what was going on and work through it,” says Mrs. Sencer. And now, all Rachel needs is a sympathetic ear.
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