Have you ever got angry? What about cried over losing a good friend? And I’m sure you’ve been scared once or twice in your life too?
Well, guess what, your kids have the exact same emotions and feelings as you do and will go on to keep having them. However they’re less likely to be able to process them as well as an adult can. So, who’s better equipped at helping them navigate the often stormy waters of emotions than the ones who love them the most and who wants to see them thrive?
There really are only two key ingredients to discussing emotions (big or small) with your kids and they are:
1: Letting them know they’re not alone in how they’re feeling.
2: And getting them to talk about how their feeling and discuss any issues that arise.
Sure, if there are some bigger issues at play, then a child psychologist or counsellor is best, but if it’s entry level, get to know your emotions stuff, then you as the parent is more than qualified.
Often though, we find so called negative emotions difficult to cope with and we just want to push them aside. They’re too hard, too scary and too inconvenient. We’re afraid of being swamped by a tsunami of feelings, our own, as well as other people’s.
I can understand why. As a society, we’re not taught to be comfortable with our emotions. We’re not taught about them in school, our parents usually didn’t have a clue and advertising and the media only exploited them, so they could make money off us.
But if there’s something that binds every single human being together on this planet, it’s our emotions. We all have them, it’s part of being human. The good ones and the so called bad ones (which aren’t really bad at all).
The key to being a happy healthy, well rounded human being is to make friends with all of our emotions. Recognise them, acknowledge them and notice how they feel and let them move through you like a bag of prunes. If at any point we start to suppress, push down or hold them in, they’ll stay with us and cloud how we see the world for the rest of our life. I know that from personal experience, and I think you do too.
When I had the opportunity to write my kid’s book on emotions, ‘It’s Ok to Feel The Way You Do’ I approached it from the angle “What would I tell my younger self about emotions and feelings that I know now?’
I’ve felt sadness, anger, loneliness, pride and anxiety and all the rest of the emotional range yet I’ve always tried to be comfortable with them. They’re a part of me, so why would I deny them? I want to thrive in this world, not just survive. Who wouldn’t want to share that with their 7-year-old self?
You have the same experience with emotions as I do. Don’t be afraid to tap onto your own experiences to help your kids be the best they can.
You most probably already are doing these suggestions, but this what I’ve heard from parents that works well and they kind of just make sense.
- Sit with your child and let them know what they’re feeling is real. Try and avoid the urge fix anything.
- Let them know that they’re safe and allow them to talk about what and how they’re feeling.
- Tell them that you have felt the same feelings as well. It lets them know they’re not alone and that you’re human too.
- Ask them to notice how it feels in their body. – what does it feel like? This helps them recognise feelings earlier when they occur. Maybe they can draw a picture.
- Sit with them, be with them. Remind them that all things will eventually pass.
By getting kids to understand and make friends with all their feelings, they’ll hopefully grow into adults who are better equipped to thrive in a rapidly changing world. And the world will be a much better place for it.