We all make our best efforts to raise our children happy, healthy and prepared to face the world. We can buy the best gear, read all the parenting books and watch all the greatest parenting shows and still feel as though we are ill prepared to deal with the situations that may arise.
One of the more difficult topics to explain and focus on is that of emotions. Many adults continue to have difficulties in dealing with their own emotions, making it incredibly important to teach children how to express their feelings appropriately at a younger age.
Laura Markham, Ph.D., parenting coach, author, and editor of Ahaparenting.com explained, “All of us worry about our kids learning to control their emotions. After all, it’s emotions that so often get us off track and into trouble. And of course, we need to just say No sometimes. Kids can’t run into the street, throw their food at each other, or pee on their baby brother. But setting limits on children’s behavior doesn’t mean we need to set limits on what they feel.”
In order to raise a child that is confident and intelligent in their emotional and mental selves, parents need to focus on teaching their children healthy ways to identify what they are feeling, and then process the emotions in question.
- Don’t Label Any Emotions as ‘Wrong’
It is important to understand that there are no ‘wrong’ emotions. While someone may be sad about something that wouldn’t phase you. The fact that it isn’t something you feel in the moment doesn’t justify whether it is or isn’t a valid emotion. We need to teach our children to embrace and identify any emotions without feeling the need to label them ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’
- Don’t Connect Emotions with Gender
Our society is full of stereotypes, which impair your child’s ability to grow emotionally. The worst of these is the belief that ‘real men’ don’t show emotions. It is important for us to teach our children regardless of gender that it is healthy to feel and express their emotions, eliminating the belief that feelings are ‘just for girls.’
- Teach Effective Coping Strategies
When expressing and managing our emotions there are both positive and negative ways to cope with how we are feeling. Before you send your child out into the world it is important to equip them with some effective, positive ways that they can manage their own emotions. This may include listening to music, squeezing a stress ball, moving to a quiet area or focusing on a breathing technique.
- Don’t Place Blame
One of the greatest lessons you can give your children is the ability to put themselves in the shoes of others, trying to understand why they did what they did rather than jumping to blame someone what happened, taking on the victim mentality. The ability to handle situations in life without taking everything personally will help prepare them to handle life as an adult.
- Don’t Jump to ‘Fix’ Everything
It is hard to watch your child hurting, and as a parent, you want nothing more than to take the pain away, however, doing so won’t teach your children how to be independent and handle life’s situations themselves. Be present for them, support them, however, allow them to work through their emotions at their own pace, in their own way.
- The Power of Communication
The hardest part for many people when it comes to expressing their emotions is the ability to effectively communicate what they are feeling to others around them. This includes not only putting their emotions into words, but also the ability to listen to others without judgment, opening the door for open communication regardless of the situation.