Being with . . . Children

In her book, Marta articulates her approach to being with children, supporting them to explore their own inner experience, keep their own counsel in the midst of any difficulty and, crucially, learn to Clear a Space from whatever is between them and enjoying their life, from moment to moment.


Her book has many detailed examples from her experience of working with children over many years. Using a more playful and less formal, academic, intellectual  approach, she offers a condensed version of the main steps of the Focusing process, as originally described for adults ~ into just three deceptively straightforward questions;



Do you notice something . . . in your body?


Where is it ?


What's it like?



Asking a child these questions would likely get you an immediate and articulate response. If you then invited them to draw what they are sensing inside and to express the qualities of their experience inside ~  ie: what colour is it ? is it tight, bubbly, shiny, dark, heavy, sparkling, like a stone, misty, cloudy, is it moving or shifting ? Something remarkable unfolds.


These questions are just as useful and relevant for adults as they are for children . . . . in fact, I would recommend using this simplified approach to anyone of any age as it helps encourage a more playful attitude to the whole thing and helps steer our intention away from over analysing our internal experience by exercising our rational, intellectual, mental muscles.  

Our schools are clearly already overburdened with new this and new that initiatives and it would be easy to assume that whatever this new fangled Focusing thing is would become just another drain on the time and attention of teachers who have enough to do simply keeping some sense of discipline in the classroom. This would be a huge misperception.


Marta lays out how the opposite is in fact the case.


Once staff have learned Focusing for themselves and begin to share it with students, they start to nurture a new approach to listening to students and something unexpected begins to happen: more space is created, more energy is liberated and disturbances in the classroom can be reduced significantly, which usually comes as a surprising relief to staff.


Levels of distress and anxiety for both staff and students can be lowered by dealing with situations in a new way ~ that respects the energy of the moment and the internal experience of the child.


Although I would wholeheartedly recommend Marta's book to any parent, carer or anyone working with children, I would add one important thing about this way of being with a child.


It needs to be translated into our local culture and language ~ and for me that means dropping most, if not all, references to the term Focusing itself and the way this skilll is currently being taught around the world, in the main, to adults. There are a few exceptions, though mostly for me, using the original terms of the method as I was taught it are counter- productive and mostly serve only to reinforce an academic, intellectual approach ~ which does not lead me much closer to my creativity, playfulness, curiosity or kindness . . . and is still too close to the language of therapy and counselling for my liking.