Heart Action

Dr. Vanessa Lapointe, R. Psych.
Wishing Star Founder

As I spent some time this week prepping for a workshop tomorrow for frontline providers, I was faced once again with the challenge of being asked the question “what do I do when…?” Being a psychologist who works with children, and also being a mom with lots of friends who are growing up their own children, I get this question a lot. You would think that I would have ready and prepared responses. And sometimes I do because it makes for a shorter conversation! And sometimes, maybe there really is a very quick and easy answer. However, 99% of the time when someone asks me “what do I do when…”, I actually don’t really have an answer.

What I am yearning to say in those moments is “what does your child need?” … ”where is your child at?” … ”what is your child feeling, thinking?” However, the world we live in doesn’t work that way. We want a recipe. We want the precise prescription for how it all works. We want to know exactly how to handle the child who will not sleep in their own bed. We want to know exactly how to respond to the adolescent who just flipped us off. We want to know exactly how to fix the hurts of a child who has been bullied.

The truth is, in order to know “what do I do when…” my long drawn out answer would be to point you in the direction of looking underneath the surface of the moment to the inner workings of the child. If you can find a way to really see each child with eyes that know them and their needs, then the answer to “what do I do when…” would bubble up from somewhere deep in your heart. Maybe we call these your heart eyes. Those eyes could take you amazing places in answering the “what do I do when…” question!

So for my workshop tomorrow I decided that I would avoid the direct answer to “what do I do when…” by talking about how finding heart eyes leads to heart action. Heart Action is when we find ways to feel a child’s needs and have those needs resonate deep within our hearts, to the extent that we are moved on behalf of the child to respond to those needs. And not because some supposed expert told you to. But simply because that is what a caring and compassionate human being does for another human being – especially a child who is utterly dependent on us.

So the next time you are stricken with “what do I do when…” musings, just push pause, find your heart eyes, and be moved to heart action. As for all my mom and dad friends out there, you can still ask me “what do I do when…” but now you will know the secret behind my contemplative smile as I endeavor to give you the short answer :)