Emotions are such an important part of us yet there has been so much stigma attached to how someone should handle emotions. The word emotion comes from the old French and Latin meaning “to excite or move out”. All of us have learned how to handle emotions from the adults in our lives who have modeled the behavior. Perhaps you can recall how when you were a child how your family members handled their anger, discontent or frustration. Maybe you were exposed to an environment that ignored difficult emotions by not giving them a space to be noticed and investigated but teaching you to just stuff them or perhaps you were in a home were there was a lot of reactive emotion.
As parents we want what's best for our children and that means having them to grow up being happy, fulfilled, successful adults. We want our kids to be compassionate and kind with good boundaries and to embody self love. All these qualities are rooted in the importance of emotional regulation and why it’s so important to teach at a young age.
Raising Healthy, Empowered Human Beings
The frontal lobe of the brain is the center of where emotional regulation occurs. This part of the brain is not fully developed and only develops through observing and being a part of life experiences where we interact with others to teach us how to get through big feelings and learn coping skills. The problem is most of us haven't had exemplary examples of how to handle emotions in a healthy manner. Every person and experience your child engages can leave an imprint and often times we just aren't aware of how our children pick up what they are picking up. That's why teaching them about emotions and how to be comfortable with feeling them (even the uncomfortable ones) is so vitally important to raise children that are healthy, empowered human beings.
"Start having conversations about feelings and reading books about Big feelings when they are young." – Nicole Waters
So how do we do this- one way is to start having conversations about feelings and reading books about Big feelings when they are young. Start to let them know that everyone has feelings and how important it is to listen to their bodies and begin to understand what their feelings are trying to say to them. They will be armed with knowing this is normal and healthy and no matter what they come across in the world they can have this reference point to give them permission to listen to their body.
Model Healthy Emotional Interactions at Home
Secondly, model healthy emotional interaction at home. This means making sure your emotional reactions are in the healthy zone. Get into a routine of showing them how you as a parent take deep breaths and calm down when you are frustrated or mad. How you sing or chant when you stub your toe and move the energy out in a healthy way. Kids are sponges they will be more likely to engage in these activities when they see it being done around them.
Get Comfortable Talking About Feelings
Third, get comfortable talking about feelings. Make a game of it, that one time you remember being embarrassed or shy and flipping the script by making emotions ok. Share what happened and turning it around to what you learned. Becoming comfortable with all emotions goes a long way into guiding kids to embrace the ones they have.
Nicole Waters is a Licensed Professional Coach, Registered Yoga Teacher and Certified Natural Health Practitioner with Ananda Brains. She works with kids and families on emotional regulation, mindset/self talk, understanding energy for wellbeing. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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