Cherishing and being cherished

Cherishing and being cherished

Summer and holidays often provide opportunities for families to get together.  My experiences with family over the course of this Summer, reminded me of some important attachment principles that help us with the little traumas we experience throughout life.  I have an uncle who loves to share the funny- no, hilarious- story when I was knee high sitting in a jumping swing suspended from the redwood beams that spanned the family room of my grandparents’ home.  This is a story that seems to be repeated every year and I am constantly told how adorable, precious and chubby I was.  This story and many others like them get relatives laughing, but I have come to realize that more than the topic of the story is the energy behind the story that makes the difference and affects me and those listening.  I know that my uncle loves and cherishes me. It is this reminder that has made me realize that everyone has a story to tell and most of us want to tell it.

Allowing a child to tell their story is one of the basic tenets that Steele and Raider mention in their book “The Structured Sensory Interventions”.  This citation from trauma researchers is used in treating trauma in children.  The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children (TLC) understands and confirms through neuroscience that trauma is experienced in the deep affective and survival areas of the brain where there are only sensations, emotionally conditioned memories, and visual images.

It has been my experience that children and adolescents want someone else to tell stories about them – those wonderful, embarrassing, funny, silly stories that mean someone loves them more than life itself.  But there are too many children who do not have a cherishing adult in their lives.  Traumatized, abused, or neglected children often do not have anyone who tells tender, loving stories about them, and they desperately need it.  Through the use of creative storytelling and art mediums, children are able to express their traumatic experiences and begin the healing process.  The following are a few fairly easy examples for teachers, coaches, counselors and family members to demonstrate cherishing as a way to help children, adolescents and each other experience a healing process for their little wounds from varied traumatic experiences.

  1. A second-grade teacher can tell the third grade teacher a sweet, tender story about Johnny.  Make sure it is super positive, as Johnny is often sensitive and always listening!
  2. A counselor can share with the counseling group a funny but loving moment about Susan that happened during a previous group meeting.  Make sure you get Susan’s permission to share; she’ll probably love it.
  3. A coach can recount a great athletic play that Roberto accomplished to “win the game”.
  4. A parent can be mindful and share some moments of adoration and praise with a relative, friend or colleague.

Be prepared to not only cherish but to be cherished – for a child or family member to tell a funny (and probably embarrassing) story about YOU.  They may tell another child, the church, a class or their best friends parents about the time you were monitoring the middle school dance and showing off your awesome 80’s moves when you fell on your butt!  Be prepared to laugh at yourself and remember that this behavior means that the child and others are learning the art of cherishing.  And they chose to cherish you – what an honor!

References:

Cherishing and being cherishedStructured Sensory Interventions For Traumatized Children and Adolescents: Strategies to Alleviate Trauma William Steele and Melvin Raider; 2001 Lewiston, NY by Edwin Mellen Press