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Karen Brennan
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Soul Fever—what to do about it

Monday, December 2, 2013

Back to Soul Fever—Let’s review the steps of dealing with soul fever:

1. Noticing:  Soul fever looks different for every child, but Kim defines it as “inner turmoil that extends beyond a bad mood or brief snit.”  It lasts longer than either of these and may really bring out their quirky tendencies.  Generally, this is easier to see with little ones.  Sometimes noticing is enough all by itself to bring a child back;  all they need is to feel understood and supported.  If we don’t notice, symptoms may worsen or reappear in a stronger form.  Sometimes we don’t notice because we are busy and preoccupied, and sometimes because children are already so “pumped up” that their norm is agitated.

2. Quieting things down:  Whether the child wants it or not, they need a break from normal routines.  Most children can regain emotional balance with 2 or 3 days of quiet.  While our impulse may be to fix whatever is wrong, in the long run, their success in resolving their own issues requires them to work through their own emotions, and a little break can really help.  These kind of breaks are easier to create when your child is still young.

3. Bringing them close:  “Physically and emotionally, they need to be brought close…When we change the routine and quiet things down, we are placing an unspoken emphasis on relationship, connection.”  This quieting down may mean spending time at home, but it might also mean spending time in nature.  This is also the time to ask what caused this soul fever.  Have you been doing too much?  Do you need to seek out guidance from someone else?  “When your child seems to deserve affection least, that’s when they need it most.”  And keep in mind that their soul fever can easily spark your own—or vice versa.  If that happens, it might be a good time to pull out the compassionate response meditation or baby pictures or to call someone who loves your child and ask them to remind you why.

4. Running its course:  Like an illness, a soul fever has its own life span.  We give our child the time, space and support to come through whatever they are facing.  When Rachel had tantrums when she was little, I thought of them like thunderstorms—they can be loud and scary and wet, but you can’t stop them until they are finished, and you certainly can’t fix them.  Remember that “no one gets to skip the soul fevers and growing pains of life.  In order to learn who they are, and what feels right to them, a child must grapple with these emotional upsets.  It does not feel good to see our child in pain and not be able to do anything about it.  Simplifying is something we can do.

5. A slow strong return:  We can see when the soul fever has broken and our child comes back to himself.  Now is the time to trust our instincts/intuitions as we re-enter regular life.  Do we need to ease back into the regular schedule or make some changes?  Recovery from these fevers includes a strengthening sense that “things get better.”  They also can bring us closer as a family, especially as we make extra time to spend with our child when she needs us.  “You don’t make them better whey they’re sick, yet your care and support allows them the ease to fight off whatever nasty virus they’re grappling with.  When they’re overwhelmed by the pressures and pace of daily life, or when their “fever” is emotional, you can offer the same pattern of care to support them.”