Amanda loved going to the store with her mom. At 2 1/2 years of age, she found the colors, the lights, the smells and the people all very stimulating and exciting. When mom announced Friday morning that they would be going to buy groceries today, Amanda squealed with delight, rushing around the house to find her favorite shoes for the occasion. Alarmed at Amanda’s level of excitement in light of the fact that it was only 7:00 a.m. and mom didn’t intend to go to the store until 10:00, Mom was quick to explain that there was plenty of time to find the shoes, for they wouldn’t be going to the store for another few hours. Amanda was heartbroken and flooded with emotion. She sobbed as if she might never go to the store at all! Mom tried to explain why they had to wait to go. She tried to calm Amanda down, but to no avail. Tears streamed down Amanda’s face as she babbled incoherently. Frustrated, mom finally threatened her with a “time out” if she didn’t quit carrying on so.
Desperate for a distraction, mom asked Amanda if she would like to help fix breakfast. Within moments, Amanda’s tears were gone and she giggled with glee as mom whipped the eggs and she waited excitedly to dip slices of bread in the slippery mixture. She talked incessantly and asked a million questions as they worked together frying the french toast. Mom was hardly listening. Already feeling weary, she quickly slathered butter and syrup on Amanda’s toast and plopped it on a plate. Amanda’s chin began to quiver and moisture gathered in her eyes again as she wailed, ” I wanted to pour it! Let me do it.” Mom sighed and glanced at the clock. It was only 7:50.
The preceding story illustrates very well the tumultuous and unpredictable quality of the water stage of development for families. Children in this stage are awash with emotion. Laughter quickly fades and joy is reduced to tears. Sorrow and grief convert to raging torrents of anger. Anger trickles away unexpectedly and once again joy emerges. Emotions are intense and ever flowing. Language flows during this time as well. Discontent with the mere labeling of objects, these children now understand the rudimentary concepts of communication and babble incessantly. Filled with wonder, these little ones constantly ask us, “why?” until our ears ache and our mouths no longer answer. As if the emotional roller coaster and chatter isn’t enough these children are powerhouses of energy.
One of the gifts we can give ourselves and our children is to channel the positive qualities of water in a healing and productive way. We need to provide our little ones with plenty of opportunities to flow from one activity to the next. Distraction and redirection work wonders. It’s easier to redirect the flow of water than to damn it up behind some rigid structure. We want to create emotionally healthy children who are comfortable expressing their emotions. We want to encourage connection through communication (talking and listening). We want to help direct and guide these bundles of energy, not restrict or impede.