Recently, I went to a 5-day intensive training to become an EMDR Child Specialist led by Ana Gomez. I noticed that 3 things were consistently mentioned that prepare kids to reprocess bad things that have happened and are also highly important for healthy socioemotional development. They are: 1) Micro-Education, 2) Physicalizing Emotions, and 3) Affect Tolerance. Now before I break these things down, if you are scratching your head wondering what EMDR even is, please visit here to learn more about EMDR
First up, Micro-education! What it is and why it is important: This is essentially what it sounds like: giving kids small pieces of information when the opportunity presents itself rather than putting kids through long lectures. Let’s face it, kids don’t want to listen to adults talk on-and-on and their attention span is, well, limited. I have observed therapists that go into a session with the goal of helping kids to understand more about emotions and it turns into them talking at the kid like, “it’s important to identify our emotions so we can tell others how we feel, and we want to be able to notice if they are big, medium , or small, and we need to know that feelings are not facts, and they come and go like the weather…” and on and on. Rather than inundating them with information, we can find tiny moments to drop just a little information in. For instance, say you’re playing Jenga and the kid appears anxious each time they go to take a block. You can use these moments to provide micro-education such as, “you looked nervous as you were taking the block out, I wonder if it was big, medium, or small nervous…”. Now each time they take out a block, they are practicing rating their emotion and it doesn’t feel like they are in a lecture hall. These small moments are highly important as they have a cumulative effect and increase the amount of adaptive information in the brain (a.k.a., the good stuff in the brain).
-Alyssa A. Davis (she/her), M.S., LMFT #130175