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Opening a closed spirit

March 14, 2013

No parent is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. We yell when we should console. We attack when we should comfort. We challenge when we should support. Our kids are unruly in the grocery store, we lash out because we are embarrassed or in a hurry or late for an appointment. Whatever the cause, no parent has escaped the effect of a closed spirit in a child. One can always tell when a child has closed down to us emotionally when they won’t allow us to touch them. They won’t look at us directly and when they do, the look would kill us if looks could kill. You know what I am talking about.

How does one open up a closed spirit? Here are a few ideas to unlock the heart of your child (or spouse) and get back into safe and loving contact:

1. Get soft and tender. It’s time to slow down, take a deep breath, and speak softly. Invite yourself into their room or invite them to your space, but do so in a safe, sensitive way. Go over the details of how you’re feeling about being distant from them and what you think you might have contributed to their feelings of resentment or anger.

2. Seek information. Ask them to tell you exactly what is their perception of the “injustice” or actions you took. Listen carefully to what they say and repeat it back to them after they finish to let them know you heard and understand.

4. Ask forgiveness. Simply state, “I am sorry that I hurt you in the way you have just told me (describe it in their language).” Don’t defend or explain and don’t argue their memory–it is their truth, not yours and they are reacting out of their own hurt and pain. See if they will verbally forgive you.

5. Reach out to touch. You will know whether forgiveness is complete if your child or spouse allows you to physically touch them. If they pull back or resist your advance, go to step five. If everything is O.K., thank them for forgiving you.

Step 5 is to go back to Step 1 and do it all over again.

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