Boys and Big FeelingsJan 03, 2023 ● By Alicia Schumacher
By Alicia Schumacher
Photo credit: Rachel Clelland Photography
Meet Andy, Alicia, Jack, and Jude. The Schumacher family lives in the Harrisburg School District and has called Sioux Falls home for over 15 years.
Jack and Jude are active boys who love to bike, create, play basketball and hockey, and seek adventure.
They also have big hearts and think about, process, and feel things deeply.
Over the past few years, the Schumachers were introduced to occupational therapy and play therapy after Jack was diagnosed with ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder.
Andy and Alicia are proponents of consistent therapy for everyone in their family. Emotions and feelings show up in various ways, and learning to process those early is especially important to them.
The boys sometimes have sessions together to learn how to work through sibling conflicts and understand their similarities and differences. Alicia shares, “Our emotions are real and valid, and we believe one of the most important responsibilities as a parent is to help them learn and understand those and how to process them. Participating in therapy offers them a safe space outside of mom and dad to express themselves and a chance to share what they are feeling and experiencing.”
Andy and Alicia learned that they have highly sensitive children and can become overstimulated by their environment or busy schedule. “We’ve needed to be thoughtful about what and how many activities we have the boys in,” says Andy. “Overextending ourselves and constantly running from here to there leads to exhaustion, big emotions. and can leave everyone feeling frayed.” One of their favorite ways to spend their time is being out in nature, whether it be hiking, bike riding, or simple walks where conversation naturally opens and offers a different environment to experience.
“As parents, we are responsible for maintaining and understanding our feelings, too,” she said. After Alicia lost her younger sister to cancer in 2009, her grief journey brought years of processing emotions during different phases of life. “Having a trained professional and someone who can sit with you to help you understand how to move through and understand what you are feeling is so impactful. The work isn’t easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s an ever-changing and evolving process and is influenced by what is happening at certain times of your life.”
Alicia’s best advice for families is this: “The goal of giving valuable tools and resources to our children is to help them access and understand their emotions so they can not only be good to and care for themselves but those around them as well.”