The other night I was helping my lovely boy get ready for bed.
Ok. Start over.
The other night I was attempting to help my lovely boy get ready for bed.
And when it came to tooth-brushing time, it was like disaster had struck. He genuinely has a very sensitive mouth (yes, that’s a thing) and the feel of having his teeth brushed is not an awesome one for him. There are some days though that he manages it all just fine and other days when the bottom falls out of it for him. So on this particular day, the bottom fell out of it and was incredibly frustrated and upset by the saga of his tooth brushing.
After some upset about all of this, and during the snuggle time that followed, my son declared softly through his sniffles, “It is just that I am very sensitive, mom.”
My mom (and psychologist!) ears perked up and I couldn’t help but wonder, “Where did that language come from?”
and “Wow, that is kind of an interesting idea to say hello to in your 8-year-old brain”.
With a lot of mindfulness about holding onto my mounting curiosity, I replied to his statement with a question, which was, “What does that mean?”
His answer? In pure genius form (naturally…!) he said, “My tummy is sensitive, my eyes are sensitive, my brain is sensitive, my ears are sensitive…and mom! Even my heart is sensitive!”
And that right there is some insight into the moving target that is a child’s “need barometer.”
The thing is, when it comes to supporting our kids, knowing when we are helicopter parenting versus providing compassionate care, knowing when they need a little nudge verses a giant hug, you have to feel for them in that exact moment on that exact day in the context of that child’s exact life. It isn’t about what is normal and not normal for any child, but about knowing your child and ensuring that your knowledge of that child informs how you “be it” for him.
When do they need the path smoothed for them a bit and when are the odd bump or struggle actually a welcome part of development? You have to navigate this and your answer is in the needs barometer.
So having watched my boy struggle with his bedtime stuff, and grapple with big ideas right at bedtime like sensitivity that affects your ears AND your heart, I was on heightened alert to get a read of his needs barometer. His face, his heart, and his soul are the sources of my data.
And with all of that in mind, I determined how the next morning needed to unfold.
With lots of love and connection. With a favorite breakfast quietly cooked up. And possibly with a late arrival to school to facilitate all of that. If needed.