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Karen Brennan
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Soul Fever, Part 1

Monday, October 28, 2013

Soul Fever, Part 1

Kim Payne gives a lot of good, practical advice on how to simplify in the chapters that follow this one.  For me, this chapter on Soul Fever is the paradigm shifting chapter—the one that helped me to reframe my view of my own children and the children with whom I work.  In this chapter, Kim defines soul fever as the behaviors a child exhibits when she is overwhelmed.  As he points out, the way this shows up is different for each child, just as some children will get a high fever with the slightest sniffle and others can be more ill and only be sleepy.  “Each child wrestles their inner trials in their own way.”  .  He reminds us that we know our own children better than anyone else and that our own instincts or intuitions tell us when our child is in a state of soul fever.  Sometimes we are more in tune with our instincts and intuitions than at other times.  Sometimes we have our own soul fevers.  Our child’s soul fever can trigger our own, and vice versa.  But we can learn, if we don’t already know, to recognize our child’s soul fever.


The first step in treating a soul fever is to notice it.  In a child with a physical fever, we might notice that our child is sluggish, not hungry, not wanting to do the things they usually love to do.  I came to recognize with my older daughter that she would get really crabby a couple of days before she got sick—then she would spike a high fever.  I later noticed that I was the same way.  “Generally, we need to see a few symptoms of disquiet to identify a soul fever.  Inner turmoil extends beyond a bad mood or brief snit.  It also lasts longer.  A child with a soul fever stays “out of sorts,” taking more than a step or two toward their quirky tendencies.”  Younger children don’t try to hide their soul fever, so it may be more obvious than it is with older children.  And sometimes, especially with younger children, just noticing may be enough.  “These small acts of noticing can form the emotional foundation of “home” or “family”:the place where we were “read,” understood, held in balance.  If we miss the symptoms, they may get worse or disappear and show up in a stronger form.  I have experienced this on a smaller scale both at home and at school—trying to ignore some kind of unpleasant behavior because I want to get something done only to find the behavior escalating.  On the other hand, sometimes it goes away if we ignore it—that is not soul fever, but more likely just part of the normal ups and downs of life.

Next week we will continue into the other steps of treating soul fever.  I hope everyone stays cool until then!