Our children have so much to offer and teach us when we are patient, calm and open to their amazing wisdom and knowledge. They are the mirrors to our undeveloped selves.
One thing that many parents find challenging, as did I when my kids were young, is the emotions and attitudes that come through our children on a regular or irregular basis. Our kids are affected by so many things in their lives, each one in a different and unique way. As they move through their day, various things can set them off and frustrate, anger, or sadden them. There is such a wide range of emotions that all humans experience. One of the important processes that we can offer our children is an outlet for these feelings. We need to help them by modeling ways to express ourselves as well as help them when they need it most. Being with our children during these times and offering compassion can be extremely difficult for us as adults. When my kids were young, their outbursts and emotions set me off. I think I took it personally and felt triggered by their emotions at the same time. It was uncomfortable and chaotic for me in a very big way.
Conditioning played a big role in this reaction. When I was a child, I can distinctly remember having big emotions, outburst, and needs. At the same time, I can also clearly remember those outburst and emotions being shut down as quickly as they came. I was too emotional or sensitive or angry. However, when we cannot express these feelings, they become buried to the point that they can become like a volcanic-eruption at any point. Not expressing them doesn’t make them go away. It buries them and they slowly begin to come out in very passive-aggressive ways until a full-blown explosion. Luckily, through my own work, I am able to manage and embrace my own emotions even though I had a different experience in my childhood.
For many of us, this is where our growth needs to take place. We need to first connect with our own triggers and unpack what they represent for us and in us. When we understand that, we can deconstruct the pain and discomfort. Looking at our childhood- the patterns, the conditions and the expectations we had – can help us to understand more about the triggers we have today. Once we become aware of where they came from, we have taken the first step forward. Awareness is the key to transformation and change. Once we are aware, we are able to bring conscious attention to the behavior, trigger, and need either before, during or after the trigger shows up. This is where a coach can help. I am here for you.
Secondly, our children own their emotions. They are not ours. We should not take them on. It is not a personal attack on us or our parenting. It is truly a human experience to process and connect with our own emotions. The only way out is through. Allowing them the space to release these feelings is the gift. We might want to wish the feelings away, but in the end, the best thing we can do for our kids is to honor their emotions even if we don’t resonate or relate to them. We have the distinct opportunity to help our kids learn creative and healthy ways to release and express their feelings, as they learn what those feelings are.
Here are some steps to support your children.
Child’s emotion: Anger and boredom because he or she hates school.
- Don’t try to fix this. It’s not our job to fix anything except perhaps a button on a shirt or something simple like that.
- Listen to hear, not to respond. Be attentive. Make eye contact and ask questions to learn more about your child’s experience. Sometimes in the moment, the child cannot share. Let them know that you see that they are having a hard time and you would love to hear how they are feeling when they are ready to share.
- Be curious, but not a “fixer”. Be curious about what your child can do to help themselves move through their feelings. Our kids are brilliant. We see this brilliance more and more as we step back and ask questions to tap into their needs and wants. We can offer gentle suggestions or stories from our experiences but in the end, this is about your child and their unique journey.
- Be compassionate & be present. Put yourself in your child’s shoes by understanding more about what it is like for them. After we do this, we must validate their feelings. Whatever is going on is important to your child. That’s why big emotions are showing up. Don’t run from the emotions, just be present with them and with your child.