How can we learn to grow in our understanding of emotional health as we help our kids navigate their own emotions?
What a good question, right?
Until I had kids and emotions became the forefront of my day (hello 2 under 3 – and one more four years down the road), emotional wellness and mental health just weren’t on my radar.
Anybody who is a parent of young children knows what I mean when I say your day is full of all the extremes of the emotional spectrum. There’s just no way around it. Whether it’s you or your kids, you’re feeling it.
Wake up call time.
We gotta gather up some grit and intention because this isn’t always a pretty roller coaster ride. Scenic? You betcha. Now, are they the best scenes? Not always, sometimes not at all. But we can still improve the quality of the ride.
Choosing to learn with our kids is a good step.
How To Navigate Emotions With Our Kids
Slow down in the moment.
In my previous post we talked about regular check-ins with ourselves to take stock of what’s going on behind the scenes of us. This is something we can train ourselves to do in the case of difficult moments with our children too.
Taking a moment to slow down and assess what might be going on behind the behavior, makes it easier to know which course of action to take next and helps us avoid being hijacked by our own emotions in the process.
Doing this also models to our kids how they can choose to slow down in the moment to figure out what they’re really feeling upset or frustrated by.
Leading into the next tip..
One thing I’ve noticed with my kids is the huge mirror they hold up to me. So many times I have seen my own behaviors reflected back at me, good and bad.
Sometimes it’s in the way they help their sibling when they’re having a difficult time with something. Other times it’s when they speak out of impatience and frustration when it really isn’t necessary.
Sometimes you even hear your exact words come spiraling out of their mouth, tone and all.
This is a good opportunity to open up conversation.
In those moments I start to see myself being reflected back, and it’s one of those not-so-pleasant reflections, I know I need to acknowledge my part in it.
Once the chaos is simmered down or it’s a little bit later, we can use this teachable moment to accept accountability for our own actions and talk out with our kids how we can work on those behaviors.
We can model emotional regulation and show how even though we make mistakes, we can learn from them.
Letting our kids know when they’ve used a helpful coping skill helps them to remember to pull it out of their toolbox the next time they might be struggling or having a difficult moment.
Acknowledge when the skillset is used and compare how the scenario works out vs when we take an alternate route that we’ve used in the past.
How has this produced more effective results for everyone involved? How did the other route make our problem bigger? Doing this also rounds back to our first point of slowing down in the moment.
By giving our kids questions to ask themselves, showing them how thinking things through helps produce better outcomes, etc. encourages that slowing down in the moment process.
Overall, it might take some time, some more for others, some not as much, as life goes, but with persisitenace, our efforts do pay off. Even if we don’t see it until weeks or months or years down the road, the imprint we leave on ourselves and our kids through intentionally navigating our emotions is often long-lasting.
Some more reading I think you might like:
How Can We Help Kids With Self-Regulation? from the Child Mind Institute
Emotional Intelligence: What it is and why it matters by Simple Homeschool
Emotional Health & The Stay-At-Home Mom (Part One) by samanthaemertwriter.com