Expressing feelings with words

We’re in shock. No, it’s not the crappy weather here in Canada (Glen got out of New York two days before Sandy hit). It’s the fact that Robbie has on two occasions expressed his feelings using words rather than actions in the last few days.

On the first occasion we’d gone into a shoe shop and found a pair of shoes that he really liked. Unfortunately, they didn’t have them in his size. He looked at others, but wasn’t keen. Then he came to find me (I was a little further away trying on a pair of shoes myself) and said “I’m frustrated because they don’t have my size”. You could have knocked me sideways with a feather. I empathised with the frustration and followed that with a big “we’ll done” for describing his feeling to me rather than externalising it in some other way. Robbie seemed pleased to get this feedback.

On the second occasion we’d told Robbie we’d take him for a swim in the hotel pool. He’d been looking forward to it all afternoon, but we spent the evening sightseeing at the other end of the city and it got too late. When we got back to the hotel he had a face like thunder. I was expecting a big scene, but instead he turned to me and said he was angry about not being able to go to the pool. I empathised and told him how sorry I was that we’d not been able to make it. I then suggested that maybe rather than angry he might be very frustrated. He stopped to think about it and agreed that the feeling he felt was frustration rather than anger. After a promise to go to the pool first thing the next morning, he calmed down and got on with it (we kept our promise and took him to the pool twice the following day).

I’m not suggesting that Robbie will be able to express his feelings with words rater than actions every time from now on, but it’s a very promising development and something we will keep encouraging him to do.