I didn’t grow up with healthy emotions as a kid, and now as an adult, I’m having to relearn how to be healthy even if I’m not happy.
I grew up being told to smile and be pleasant all the time. There was no room, no patience for “negative emotions.”
Children need to feel safe with parents to express their entire spectrum of emotions.
The problem is that we as well-meaning parents and caregivers often attempt to intercept children on their journey through an emotional tunnel.
Emotions are just communication.
Tears are proof that emotions can be physical. Imagine what stuck emotions can do to your body when they have spent years without being released.
As parents, if we don’t have our emotions under control, how can we coach our kids to express themselves in healthy ways?
I’m convinced that when we help our children find healthy ways of dealing with their feelings-ways that don’t hurt them or anyone else-we’re helping to make our world a safer, better place.Mr. Rogers
The emotionally intelligent person knows that love is a skill, not a feeling, and will require trust, vulnerability, generosity, humor, sexual understanding, and selective resignation. The emotionally intelligent person awards themselves the time to determine what gives their working life meaning and has the confidence and tenacity to try to find an accommodation between their inner priorities and the demands of the world. The emotionally intelligent person knows how to hope and be grateful, while remaining steadfast before the essentially tragic structure of existence. The emotionally intelligent person knows that they will only ever be mentally healthy in a few areas and at certain moments, but is committed to fathoming their inadequacies and warning others of them in good time, with apology and charm… There are few catastrophes, in our own lives or in those of nations, that do not ultimately have their origins in emotional ignorance.Alain de Botton
5 Steps to Emotion Coaching
- Be aware of your child’s emotions.
- Recognize and use emotional moments as opportunities to connect and teach.
- Help your child identify and verbally name emotions.
- Respect your child’s feelings by taking time to listen carefully. Communicate empathy and understanding.
- Explore solutions to problems together. Set reasonable limits.
Emotions can be inconvenient. It’s super important that we don’t project onto our kids that they are inconvenient. We need to take the time to work through the tough times. This is especially hard when we’re working through it ourselves.
What to say when we have big feelings:
- It’s ok to let it out.
- I’m here. I’m listening. I’m not leaving.
- You can feel this, but you can’t act out this way.
- Feelings don’t last forever. Sometimes, it feels like it!
- Let’s take a breather.
- You are good and kind. Everyone makes mistakes.
- I’ll be right here waiting when you need me.
- Let’s try that again.
- What did we learn?
- We can do better next time.
Obviously, we don’t use all these phrases every time. Use discretion and learn along with your child. We often work through frustrations and anger with our kids in these ways. We want to heal relationships. Reconciliation is the goal. Sometimes, there are no easy answers. Being human is complicated.
Holding space while allowing your child to release their emotions might sound like:
– I get it, it’s ok, let it out
– Yes I know, it’s so hard, show me how hard it is
– It looks like letting the tears flow while staying connected and present
– It looks like holding off on the breathing for a little bit and waiting before you come in with any calming techniques
Stress and anxiety determine resilience and vulnerability.
All of us deal with stress daily, but how we react is important.
We have used art, music, exercise, meditation, book and movie discussions, and Angry Birds printables to help us learn about and navigate difficult feelings.
For behavior, we need not worry that we condone or accept certain acts. We need to realize that we can accept and support emotions. Behaviors are often communication that we need to address.
I don’t have to like an emotion to allow it. I need to work through my triggers and discomforts to support my child.
It’s really a lot to be living and homeschooling every day in a house we share with 6 individuals.
We can all heal together.
Your true self is underneath all the emotions you don’t want to feel.
It’s important we learn how and teach our kids how to properly apologize.
I am breaking the cycle of silence and stifling emotions. Sometimes, it’s messy and really hard. Feelings sometimes suck. It’s important that my kids feel they’re safe to express the entire spectrum of emotions at home, around me, around each other.
Let feelings be.
I have to deal with my own issues in order to coach them well on theirs. I often fail, but I admit it and make amends. I start over, and over, and over.
We’re all learning how to be people.
My husband and I like this emotional needs questionnaire and discussed the relevant parts with our children so we can all better love and respect each other.
When the world feels like an emotional roller coaster, steady yourself with simple rituals. Do the dishes. Fold the laundry. Water the plants. Simplicity attracts wisdom.
Children need to feel free to express and trust their emotions and how to honor the emotional responses of others. These skills build a foundation for consent.
I think this series of books is excellent to help kids identify and deal with hard emotions:
We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.Brené Brown
How introverts deal with stress and anxiety is different than how extroverts handle emotions. Often, it gets lost in translation.
Highly sensitive individuals are affected by their own and others’ emotions differently than many people.
Listen To Your Emotions…
Bitterness shows you where you need to heal, where you’re still holding judgments on others and yourself.
Resentment shows you where you’re living in the past and not allowing the present to be as it is.
Discomfort shows you that you need to pay attention right now to what is happening because you’re being given the opportunity to change, to do something different than you typically do it.
Anger shows you what you’re passionate about, where your boundaries are, and what you believe needs to change about the world.
Disappointment shows you that you tried for something, that you did not give in to apathy, that you still care.
Guilt shows you that you’re still living life in other people’s expectations of what you should do.
Shame shows you that you’re internalizing other people’s beliefs about who you should be (or who you are) and that you need to reconnect with yourself.
Anxiety shows you that you need to wake up, right now, and that you need to be present, that you’re stuck in the past and living in fear of the future.
Sadness shows you the depth of your feeling, the depth of your care for others and this world.
“Are you happy?” “In all honesty? No. But I am curious – I am curious in my sadness, and I am curious in my joy. I am everseeking, everfeeling. I am in awe of the beautiful moments life gives us, and I am in awe of the difficult ones. I am transfixed by grief, by growth. It is all so stunning, so rich, and I will never convince myself that I cannot be somber, cannot be hurt, cannot be overjoyed. I want to feel it all – I don’t want to cover it up or numb it. So no, I am not happy. I am open, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”― Bianca Sparacino, Seeds Planted in Concrete
For grief, trauma, and other really strong negative emotions…
The only way out is through.
We have to embrace it all for true healing.
Helpful: Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale for ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences)
Of course, neurotypical children should be actively working on healthy emotions with their trusted and attached caregivers. For mental health issues, learning disabilities, autism and more, it’s much more complicated.