What training did you get from your parents in managing emotions?
If you are like me, you didn’t get much really constructive help in recognising or regulating feelings.
“Don’t worry! It will all turn out right! ” was about the extent of the emotional management in my house.
I guess that’s why many people automatically default to ineffective ways such as avoidance, denial and straight-up worrying when difficult emotions emerge.
And then those ineffective strategies are passed on to children.
Sometimes, it’s a matter of finding better ways of dealing with negative feelings rather than avoiding them, or allowing them to overwhelm us or act out.
Here are 3 healthy ways to manage your emotions that you can pass on to your children:
1. Breathe deeply
The trick here is to take deep breaths, rather than shallow breaths. The easiest way to breathe deeply is to sit up straight (or stand up straight), count to 3 quietly while breathing through your nose, and count to 5 while breathing out. Breathe slowly and deeply. You may even feel a little ‘heady’, which indicates deep (and low) breathing.
2. Use positive, REALISTIC self-talk
Ever talked yourself out of doing something exciting, new or challenging before you’ve even started? Maybe you’ve said something like: “I’ll never be able to do that.” “This will stress me out big time.” “I’m no good at….” I know I have. Next time you catch yourself talking yourself or something down replace the negative with something realistic but more positive. Something Exerciselike: “I’ve done it in the past and I survived. So I should be able to do it again.” Repeat this a few times and your emotional state will shift to a better one.
Exercise releases endorphins; nature’s feel-good chemical, which will move your mood to a better state. The paradox is that we often don’t feel like exercising, when we really need it. BUT going for a run, walking the dog or even a playing a game outside with the kids is the very thing you need to feel better.
It’s important that as parents we practise good emotional management techniques ourselves so we are better placed to pass them on to kids. The upside is that we’ll feel better, make better decisions and be more effective as parents as well.
PS: We’ve designed a fantastic 100 Feeling Words poster for members of Parentingideas Club to use with kids to help them give their feelings a label, and for you to develop a richer parenting vocabulary. Save the PDF to your kids’ device or print a copy and pin it up somewhere accessible.
Join Parentingideas Club today and you can access the ‘100 Feeling Words’ poster along with all my Parenting Gold: 100s of articles, developmental maps, downloads and tools to help your journey to parenting success. Find out more now!
A popular presenter, Michael Grose speaks to parents, teachers and principals on a regular basis.Michael comes from an education background, and has conducted post-graduate research into what makes healthy families tick.He's given over 1500 parenting presentations, including the first parenting seminar in Parliament House, Canberra.Michael is married with three adult children who have all successfully flown the parent nest.