Creativity Pathway #124 & Parenting Pathway #138: Creative Communication

Recently, a client was expressing frustration and anxiety about his relationship with his toddler. As many parents have experienced, a toddler’s greatest struggle is between the desire for independence and the desire for safety and comfort. All the while, most toddlers do not yet have the words with which to communicate their intense emotions. Such was the case with the son of my client; most days were being tainted by loud temper tantrums, kicking and screaming. 

In our coaching conversation, my client realized the vast difference between his own personality and that of his son. My client tends to be an “analytic sort,” seeing situations in black and white, with a need to talk through the facts clearly and rationally to come to closure about points of dispute. His son, on the other hand, is introverted, less apt to express his feelings verbally, passionate and artistic. It was clear that to find peace in this house my client would need to meet his son where he was.

And so came the idea of the “Feeling Cards.” My client wanted to find a way to help his son express his feelings and needs before emotions were so intense that a tantrum resulted. He and his son spent one wonderful evening together creating pictures on six cards representing various feelings or needs, such as “Angry,” “Sad,” “Happy,” and “I want to be with you.” 

Soon after, when the toddler began the typical behavioral patterns that would inevitably lead to meltdown, my client brought out the picture cards to enable his son to talk, in his own way, about his feelings. “Are you angry?” said my client, holding up the corresponding card. His son searched through the deck and found “Sad.” Then said, “No, I am this.” Next picking up the “Happy” card, he said, “I want to be this and I want to be with you.” A conversation had emerged, an emotional reconnection had been made and a tantrum had been stalled in its tracks. Now, many weeks later, the toddler asks for the cards when he senses that he is not being heard or understood.

This is not just a lesson in creative parenting, but a lesson in creative communication. It is a reminder that we have preferred ways of communicating and need the permission and space to explore our options. 

Coaching questions: How could alternate ways of communicating important feelings, thoughts, or ideas enhance your relationship? Would a painting, poem, song or dance more clearly or profoundly represent what it is that you have been trying to express?

To reply to this Pathway, use our Feedback Form. To learn more about our Creativity Coaching Programs and to arrange for a complementary Creativity coaching session, use our Contact Form or Email Erika.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Erika Jackson (
LifeTrek Coaching International
Columbus, OH  •   U.S.A.

Telephone: 614-565-9953 • Fax: 208-977-7793
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