How Do I Navigate My Emotions to be Available to my Kids?

Parenting is stressful!

The goal is not to eliminate stress all together since that is impossible, however children learn constantly by watching our behavior. We have the responsibility to prepare them for life and one of these important life skills is to learn how to deal with stress.

Children experience stress and anxiety early in their lives. Experts say that the baby in the womb is affected by the mother’s stress. We also know that most of our children’s values (world views) are formed by 6-8 years of age. This signifies that even before one knows it, a young person’s emotional / psychological responses to life’s events are set. She / he learned them from mom and dad.

So how do I stay emotionally stable in this current challenging situation? I must be able to understand my own emotions so that I can manage them well. My emotions are not bad or good, but are indicators of stressors. Many times, emotions are acting as warning signs. It is no one else’s job to do this monitoring and managing of my emotions – it is mine alone!

How does one do that? My ability to manage my emotions was learned in my home. If, as often happens, my parents did not help me identify, understand, and manage my emotions, I need to start working on it…NOW. Emotional intelligence literature tells us that this is key to feeling emotionally secure and it is the key to having successful relationships. When I pass this ability on to my children, I help them cope and succeed.

Encouraging note: This ability to manage my emotions can be learned at any time in my life.

As a parent I should do the following things:

  • I need to study myself to understand my emotions so I can manage them better and cope better. If I am not managing my emotions well, I will not be able to help my children manage them either.
  • I need to take the time to practice self-care. Am I sleeping well, eating well, exercising? All of these activities help one cope. Less than 6 hours of sleep gives one the skills / abilities of someone who is legally drunk.
  • I need energy to manage the challenges of a family. If I am going to help my children, I will need to be operating out of a full tank, not an empty one.
  • I need to manage my time. Talking about emotions with my children takes time. I need to take the time to understand and listen to my child. I can teach them that emotions are friends / guides. This will also help guide them into proper expressions of their emotions.
  • I don’t need to be afraid of my emotions. Did you know that conflict is healthy if done correctly? Learning the skills of good conflict resolution is an essential way to negotiate not only my needs, but also allows my child to acknowledge their emotions and talk about them in a way that can bring resolution. In the end, my child can learn to not be afraid of difficult emotions. For example: When we as parents get angry and take this out on our children, it can cause our children to either rebel or withdraw.

Remember, as a parent you are preparing your child to know themselves and to relate to others. It is worth the time and energy to work on me so I can be available to them.

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