How do I help my kids in their emotions?
This has been an epic journey for me. Not epic in a sense of heroic, but epic in the sense of incredibly-long-and-exhausting. Along that journey were sleepless nights, tears of pain, and many, many questions.
And more and more, I began to recognize that I really couldn’t help my little ones work through their emotions if I was struggling in my own. How could I help my daughter in her sadness, if I couldn’t help my own? How could I help my child with her angry outbursts, if I was feeling angry myself?
PROBLEM: My kids have emotions. I have emotions. We are all emotional. What do we do?
So this epic journey has not just been about my children and how to teach them, but has also been about me, learning to identify what emotions I am actually feeling, and what to do about them. Only then could I really help my children find peace through their emotions.
I discovered a book along the way—The Language of Emotions by Karla McLaren. She teaches that our emotions are messengers that are delivering a message to us and if we recognize that message and act on it, then the emotion has done its job and will leave us in peace. This idea resonated with me, and we began to practice it. It has been life changing! (Read more about her book here!)
The basic tenets I live by now are the following steps:
- Recognize what emotion I am feeling.
- Ask the question that will help me discover the message that that emotion is bringing to me.
- Act on the answer.
The steps I take to help each of my girls in their emotions are the following:
- Ask her what emotion she is feeling.
- Ask her the question that will help her discover what message her emotion is bringing to her.
- Help her listen for and act on the answer.
Does this work on boys? Very much yes! Though I haven’t tried it out on my son yet. He is only fourteen months right now. But I have walked my husband through these steps, and so I know it is possible.
SOLUTION: Identify what emotion we are feeling, ask that emotion’s specific question to discover the message it is bringing, and then act on the answer.
So, what are the three easy steps to helping children in their emotions?
- Help them identify what they are feeling.
- Ask the specific question for that emotion to help them discover the message it is bringing. (What questions do you ask? Watch for those in upcoming posts!)
- Help them wait for the answer and then act on it.
Call me Odysseus. I ventured out, I traveled, I fought, I learned, I grew, and I’m home now to teach my own little ones. It’s possible. We can do it. You can do it too.