I do my best to listen to my kids when they’re having difficulties and try to encourage them to express their emotions. Each week I have moments where I wish I’d done better but also moments where I feel delighted with myself for my endless patience! Lets be honest, mothers rock!
Along the way I’ve found some very helpful books and other tools. One thing I’ve discovered, which has helped me find perspective and spend quality time exploring tricky situations or emotional questions, is the Children’s Spirit Animal Cards. I love them so much I’ve also gifted a set to my Goddaughter and today I’ve ordered another two sets. One set is for my work, I see a good number of children in my homeopathy practice and I reckon they will love them.
My daughter is a huge animal lover, which gives them special value for her (she wants to be a vet). She is a child, pre-teen now - soon turning eleven, who sometimes struggles with social skills and finding her place within the group of girls in school. She’s more inclined to sit and read a book than discuss ‘Home and Away’ and has no interest yet in boys, makeup, fashion or kissing. She enjoys running around the garden, hanging out with her pets and reading anything she can get her hands on.
I bought these cards for her as a present a few years ago and they’ve been fantastic for giving her confidence and helping her to see a bigger picture. I knew we were on to a winner when, about a year ago, I came into her room and saw two of them propped up on her desk:
Cougar -You can do it!
Bear – Stand up for yourself!
When did you pull those I asked? ‘Last week’ she said, ‘when I was feeling upset about so-and-so in school’. She’d had them displayed all week so she could remember what they were telling her every day.
Since then we’ve started using them in earnest to untangle tricky situations. We’ve sat down together many times when something is bothering her: an annoying classmate, a missed opportunity or a disappointing outcome. She asks a question about the situation and pulls a card, sometimes two. We read it together and talk about what is says. If she doesn’t relate to it, sometimes she pulls another or lays them all out and chooses the one that most stands out at this time.
It’s not suddenly all sorted because the card says ‘You can overcome any problem’ (Elephant) or ‘Trust your feelings’ (Horse) but reading them helps her acknowledge what might be behind her own feelings and put some of her experiences into words. Also it gives us time together exploring these things where I hold back and try not to dispense my own advice or ideas but instead encourage her to find her own. Having the cards helps us do this. They are simple, wise and beautiful, suitable for all ages really. I think she has them since she was six. You can just play with them and look at the pictures, they don’t have to be used for reflection but naturally lend themselves to it when everyone is ready.
I love them so much I've also bought a set for my goddaughter and yesterday I ordered 3 more sets online (one set for work for the many children I see in my homeopathy practice). I’m looking forward to having them to offer to the kids I meet who are having difficulties in school or with friends.
I’ve a feeling the pack will diminish quickly as it would be hard not to let them keep the card if they really connect with it so I’ll probably be ordering another set soon! I’d highly recommend them as a gift for the bedside table of any child who is struggling a bit with the ups and downs of life. They bring wisdom to even the most difficult moments for the parent as well as the child!
Children’s Spirit Animal Cards – by Stephen D. Farmer
Available on Amazon, the Book Depository and other online locations. If you see them in a local shop let me know!
Siobhán Daffy runs Natural Rhythms Homeopathy from Alethea Centre, Parkwest, Dublin 12. She works with many adults and families interested in natural ways of building health and wellbeing.