Does Your Child Hold Things In?
Has your child ever said, “nothing”, when you asked them, “What’s wrong”? Does it bother you when your child doesn’t or can’t tell you what’s wrong, when there is clearly something going on with them? Have you ever seen your child sulk or have an attitude, when they don’t know how to express their feelings? Or maybe you have a child who just shows anger or aggression, and it’s hard for them to explain what they are feeling or why they are angry.
As parents, we have to teach our children to express their feelings when something is going on with them. We have to encourage them and let them know that they are entitled to feel EVERY emotion they feel, as long as they express it appropriately. Many researchers and educators believe… there is a lack of understanding for the importance of social emotional intelligence, when we raise our children. This lack of understanding has become a detriment to much of our children’s emotional health and growth. Some parents do not even realize how they can be harming their children in the long run, if they do not know how to express hurt, sadness, low self esteem and anger.
It is no secret that if these same feelings and emotions are not expressed in a healthy way, they can become associated with interpersonal conflicts, social concerns and negative evaluations by others, as well as property destruction, adjustment concerns, inappropriate risk taking, accidents, depression and future substance abuse.
Apart of social emotional intelligence, is the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions. Children have to be taught to discriminate between different emotions, label them appropriately and then use their emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.
Sometimes as parents, we find it hard to control our own feelings, emotions and anger, so it may be hard for us to teach our children how to control their attitudes and anger, if we are not role modeling positive emotional health ourselves.
Not only should we be modeling appropriate ways to deal with our emotions, but if we don’t teach our children to manage their emotions, talk about what they feel, and encourage them to express their feelings appropriately, they can end up being a child who holds in feelings, a child who shows aggression toward themselves and others… or even a child who becomes depressed.
An example that comes to mind when raising my own children is the fact that I have always told my kids they are entitled to their feelings, but they must express their emotions appropriately. My 22 year old, never really had a bad temper, but my 7 year old can get very upset, usually in times when he does not get his way. When I have asked him what goes through his head when he is angry, he has described to me “when I am mad, something comes over me and I just don’t want to listen to anything or anyone”. Like most parents, I can become upset when he does not want to hear the word “no”, but I still encourage him to express his feelings and explain why he feels what he feels.
Some ways we can help our children recognize what they feel are:
-Talk to our children through their negative feelings or anger.
-Ask them what emotion they are feeling when they are upset/sad/angry
-Have them describe what they are feeling to you, if they cannot tell you what emotion they feel
-Try not to discount their feelings, by thinking or assuming what they feel is not important
-Give them logic behind your decisions, try not to use, because “I said so”
When we hear and honor how they are feeling and why they are feeling what they feel, it will be easier for them to talk to us and we can help them work through their emotions and be more in tune with what they are feeling. Then of course, we can help them express their feelings/emotions appropriately.
Happy March, Parents.
To Great Parenting!