By. Bianca Segundo
Oftentimes when we hear children crying you also hear the parent whisper, “Stop crying, you’re fine.” I, myself, may be guilty of this a time or two.
Growing up we are taught to suppress our feelings as to not be heard. Without taking our feelings into consideration, our emotional state is expected to be completely masked, which may or may not affect us in the future but definitely makes things more difficult for ourselves as well as those around us.
As parents, we have to help break that barrier in order for them to learn healthy ways to cope with their feelings in positive ways!
What is the barrier??
Learning how to communicate effectively.
Young children encounter complex feelings just like adults, however they may not have the vocabulary or understanding of how to express themselves. Instead, they communicate their feelings and emotions the only way they know how- crying, facial expressions, body language, etc.
Resist the urge to make your child's feelings go away. No, we don’t like when they are feeling anxious or upset, but be present in the moment and talk through the situation with them to fully understand why they are feeling the way that they do while encouraging them to take a positive action in order to feel better. When feelings are dismissed, the behavior may be expressed in unhealthy ways.
Monkey see, Monkey do!
Parents, we have an important role in helping our kids develop an understanding for their feelings and behaviors.
Be aware that your children learn best by watching YOU! By using descriptive words and translating those words into appropriate actions, they will realize that expressing their feelings is a wonderful thing if they learn how to communicate that feeling effectively.
When I go to drop the kids off at school I may say, “I feel sad that I am dropping you off because I will miss you all day. Give me a hug.”
I am expressing the fact that I am upset with the situation, but I am not going to react negatively. Instead, I want a hug so I can feel better.
Encouraging kids to openly express their feelings rather than arguing with a sibling or throwing a tantrum will be a great opportunity to teach them alternative reactions.
Negative feelings don’t always have to be followed by an adverse reaction. When children are feeling challenged it’s easy for them to become high-strung and temperamental. When these feelings first arise, ask questions like “ What is making you upset?” and “ What is a better way to express that feeling?”
What we think are ‘unjustified behaviors’ are actually rational feelings communicated poorly. Their behavior is just an involuntary response! Learning to watch and listen for behaviors and connecting feelings will help us to better assist with managing these situations.
Only then can they learn how to express and manage feelings on their own in the future.