Our wonderful foster carer Lynne Blencowe has written a guest blog for International Day of Happiness.
Happiness: a mental or emotional state of well-being which can be defined by, among others, positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.
As a foster carer I usually experience many different emotions throughout the day, but no matter what the day has brought, I always like to end it on a positive note with the beautiful children who are part of our Chosen Family.
When I put the children to bed I always get them to say something specific and wonderful about themselves that has happened, or how they feel about themselves that day. This can be anything including, “I am really proud of myself as I got all of my spellings right”, “I am precious to you”, “I am beautiful and have beautiful skin.” I then tell them 5 positive things about themselves or what they have done that day. These might be, “I really loved that cup of coffee you made for me today – it was just what I wanted” or “Thank you for reading to me so beautifully today – I loved the expression you used – you are a great reader” or “You made me really laugh today when you told me that funny story of what happened at school”
To find 5 positive things to say to a child or young person when everything is going well is easy to do. What’s harder is finding those things when times are tough – but often that is when it is most important and meaningful. For me, I find it can be extremely useful in the prevention of Blocked Care which Dan Hughes and Jonathan Baylin describe in their book, “Brain based parenting” as:
Blocked Care (the stressed-out survival-based brain mode). Blocked care’ describes ‘how stress can suppress a well-meaning parent’s capacity to sustain loving feelings and empathy towards his or her child’. It stems from a need for self-protection and defensiveness and fosters a reactive style of parenting that is narrowly focussed on the immediate behaviour and most negative aspects of the child. In blocked care there is a tendency to overreact to a child’s nonverbal communication; nonverbal communications are processed faster than verbal communications and therefore blocks verbal communication. Blocked care has a tendency to be judgemental
Some young people, especially teenagers, in my experience, find it very difficult to accept praise, so on occasions I have shouted messages through the bedroom door at night – “By the way – I loved the way you did your hair in that up-do style” and I have received the response, “**** **”” but a few days later I have been asked, “Did you really like my hair the other day?” So – they are always listening and taking in what you say – even if they pretend not to!
If at all possible, the only way for me to end each and every day, particularly on the International Day of Happiness, is with positive and pleasant emotions both for myself and the children I love. Maybe give it a try?
Happy International Day of Happiness.