How do I help my kids with their emotions?Jun 23, 2023
Last time we started chatting about emotions… let’s build on. If you haven’t caught the intro/part 1, scooch back to Episode #93, The Skinny on Emotions. And Episode #94, Fueling the Mojo…
How the heck do I help my kids with their feelings?
Notice how this is Part 3. Why? Because we had to have the basics in place first. The basics include:
1) Feelings are what make us human.
2) Explicitly, let’s say it: Feelings are NORMAL. Meaning, they are there for a reason. Is it a thought, is it a response to a need being met or unmet? Either way… the feeling is there for a reason.
And that’s what’s very different from how a lot of us were raised. “There’s no time for this feeling. You shouldn’t feel this way. That’s a bad feeling. Stop feeling that! Good girls don’t feel…”
There is so much socialized BS about our feelings - that isn’t helpful at all. Which is why we are doing this work, so we can learn how to understand our feelings AND be able to model and teach differently for our children. Because we can’t just tell them what to do (ha - good luck with that one), we get to first understand what is happening behind the scenes for us so we can model for and teach our kids in a way that we really want.
OK, so – how do I help my kids?
Readers Digest Version:
Keeping it simple.
Ask them to ID their feelings
What is the thought that led to the feeling
Describe the vibration in the body - feeling, color, location, temperature
Sit with it
- All feelings are welcome. Whew, this is a mantra. All feelings are welcome here. Notice how as a parent we want our kids to feel happy, open, inquisitive… not bored, frustrated, angry or sad. First, we have to do the work of accepting that we can’t just dial-in what our kids should be feeling. Their feelings are an inside-job: we have no control over their feelings. At. All.
- Ask your child to Identify their feelings. “Hey, Bud, what are you feeling right now?” If they are searching for the words, you can take a good guess. “Hey, you’re looking down right now. Why are you sad?” If they’re not sad, they’ll tell you. And then you can expand the conversation.
- “What is the story that’s creating that sad feeling?” This is identifying the thought that led to the feeling.
- Don’t try to change how they feel. Feelings are there for a reason. And the reason isn’t for someone else to come in and switch the dial. Be there with them. The best message we can relay - and live out loud - is that feelings are not to be feared.
- Invite your child to close their eyes, take a breath and describe what they’re feeling in their body. What is its temperature? How is the feeling moving in your body? Is it fast or slow? What color does it have? Go slow and ask them to take breaths with you. When we invite our kids to describe the actual vibration that they are feeling in their bodies with an emotion - it invites them to stay with it, describe it, not fear and avoid it.
- Sit with your child as they sit with the emotion in their body. When we truly feel our emotions, the body releases its grip on it in a remarkably short period of time (often 1-2 minutes).
- BREATHE. Throughout all of the exercise, breathe. Deep, slow breathing decreases the vagal tone, calms and physiologically helps us shift emotional states as well.
- With practice, we can learn that the worst thing is a feeling. AND, that we can sit with the feeling. Holy smokes - if the worst thing is something that we can sit with for 1-2 minutes and it’s gone – there’s nothing we can’t do.
Now for some parents, this sounds like hocus-pocus. And that’s ok. It just means that you get to practice with it first.
I invite you to pick an emotion - frustration has been one that I can readily feel - any time I think about how things should be done differently! Pick an emotion, and then sit there - FEELING what it is like in your body. Close your eyes, feeling it, and describe it to yourself. Describe it like you were trying to tell someone who had never heard of this sensation before. Breathe. Keep describing. And keep breathing. Notice how it changes over time with your breath.
It’s truly a practice. The most rewarding practice and tool: breathing and describing the feelings in your body. Connecting with your body and listening to what it is telling you. Emotions are the ways that our bodies communicate about whether our needs are met or not. You are learning the language right now.
When you’re ready to dive into it further, to work together to explore emotions as they come up in real-time, let’s connect. Here's a calendar link to have a 1:1 call with me to see what it is like to work together.
Much love for you, your family, and all your progress, My Friend.
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