It has been over a week and the converastion of and surrounding Chapter One continues here on the blog and also over at our facebook group. How lovely! I am in awe of you all and what you are bringing to this conversation. I look forward to your reflections on our current chapter.
Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne
Chapter Two: Soul Fever
Do you take notice when your child is experiencing what Payne has named a "soul fever"? In contrast to a physical fever, a soul fever is emotional or spiritual in nature. Your child is not feeling like themselves and is acting out in their own (sassy? sad? angry? controlling?) way. A soul fever speaks of being overwhelmed and disconnected and begs for quieting down, being nurtured, and turning inward.
Simplicity Parenting urges us to focus on and honor our instincts. Just as our intuition guides us to the proper care of a child with a physical fever, our inner knowing also leads us to the path of care for a child with a soul fever. We are reminded during these times to be truly present with our children – not overwhelmed and overstimulated ourselves. We need to be attentive, present, and free of distraction. That sounds ideal for parenting under any circumstances.
Payne lays out a process to remedy a soul fever as this: 1) Recognize it. 2) Quiet down the child's life. 3) Seek connection. 4) Allow it to run its course.
How to notice a soul fever? Your child's quirks become magnified. It is the exaggeration of their inner self, based on their unique personality. Some move towards isolation, others towards tantrum, anger, or controlling behavior. They become an out-of-balance caricature of themselves.
Quieting Things Down
Break your obligations. Stay home. Cancel your plans. Just as with a physical fever, Payne believes it is appropriate to essentially call in sick to your life's obligations to care for your child.
Bringing Them Close
I love what Payne laid out in this section. To me it is what we should be doing regularly as parents, but what many don't find or make the time to do. Connection. Quiet time. Listening. Payne also implores us to focus on our child's golden self, their "good" side. Should this not be what we do everyday? To imagine them as their highest self, their most kind, authentic, and radiant being? Of course. But I loved the reminder all the same, soul fever or not.
Payne talks about kids needing affection most when they "deserve it the least". Thought I believe that they always are in a place of deserving affection and connection, the point to me was that at the times when we're pushed to our breaking point by our kids behavior is when they are begging us for connection.
Running Its Course
It is not our job to fix what is not working. Our work is to create a nurturing and calm environment, connect with and unconditionally love our hurting child, and allow them to heal.
This chapter, to me, had two main cords: slowing down and connecting fully. The slowing down was the most applicable piece around here. Even my (simple, old-fashioned, handmade) life feels fast-forward sometimes. My mom was visiting this week and I realized last night as she and I relaxed on the couch that I had not sat on my couch since my birthday. Almost two weeks before. We are busy. Really busy. And all of that doing has a cost. For many weeks I have been feeling that doing less would be good for me, for Pete, and especially for our kids.
And as to connecting fully, much of what Payne discusses in this chapter rings true to my goal of a parenting path based on validation, connection, and kindness. We strive to practice non-violent parenting, meaning we don't punish our kids with time outs, jailed toys, or other loss of privileges for acting out. Our goal is to find the root of the behavior and work backwards from there to seek solution.
What about you? Do you have time to follow his advice when someone in your family is out of sorts? Or do you often find yourself addressing the behavior rather than the underlying cause? What stuck with you in Chapter two above all else? Share your thougths on soule fever.