Emotions are at the very core of who we are. Parents are the first teachers in how children deal with emotions (or don’t deal with them). It is key for us to pay attention to them just as much as we do their physical well- being. To be successful at any relationship whether professional or personal, it will be extremely helpful as our child age to ensure we are cognizant of our responsibility to help them understand their emotions and why they feel them.
As an emotional intelligence coach I tend to get people on the back end of what we need to learn about our own emotional selves. As a parent you have the opportunity to be proactive you’re your child instead of serving as the interventionist of your adult child later. When people can successfully identify what evokes emotion, they can increase their mental ability, help protect their mental health and strengthen relationships professionally and personally while growing in their own authenticity.
A great way to help your child begin to touch base with their own emotional self is by encouraging them to create a feelings journey. The words emotion and feeling are often used interchangeably, but we must, however, learn the difference between the two. Feelings are simply reactions to our emotions. Emotions are the body’s reaction to what we believe are perceived threats. Example : “I feel anxious, because I’m scared” indicates the emotion of fear is causing me to feel anxious. If you can identify the feeling you can track it back to the emotion that caused it and understand what needs were or were not met that caused your feelings to arise.
In your child’s journal, it will be important to jot down the times they felt intensely about something. As this becomes habit, you can use this to help them discover more about their selves and you can speak with them on how to deal with them. This is an early phase of acceptance wherein they learn what they feel, why they feel it and how it impacts their life.
Check out these tips to help your child with their feelings and emotions journal:
- When purchasing your child’s journal make is special and unique to them. You can use a notepad but ask yourself “is that what they would really want or use?” Anything will work but think about the message you’re sending from the first moment.
- Help your child keep track of times when they feel intense emotions and the feelings that come with them. Keep track of dates, times and circumstances surrounding the experience. /this can help in the future in the event something in particular is triggering these reactions.
- Keep track of how both you and your child handled the incident. This is key to helping you keep your own reactions in check and improve your personal skills with emotions, feelings and parenting as a whole.
- Ask yourself questions like, was my reaction helpful, hurtful or benign?
- What could I have done differently?
- What will I do in the future if this happens?
- What did I learn about myself and my child?
- When things go back to normal, plan to have a conversation with your child about what happened. When doing so, speak from a place of love and compassion being careful not to speak from a place of correction. Correction is geared towards action not the feelings or emotions that caused it. Help them understand the feelings and emotions they have so they can deal with actions in the future. Make sure to praise positive actions and ask them what they could have done differently if actions were not positive.
- Remember this is not a perfect science. Many variables come into play when dealing with the emotional self and often times things can’t be replicated but when they are, try and notice the how and why.
- Help your child put words to their feelings and emotions. This helps them become self-aware and is a great step towards healthy self-awareness and relationship management.
Keeping these tips in mind will also help you in your own lifelong journey into discovering your own awareness of self and behaviors that are either self-building or self-destructive. Your children will learn a great skillet that will take them far both personally and professionally.
Photo: Flickr/Ken Banks