Becoming a mom means you always need a bag of tricks on hand to get you through the magic show of parenting. I am always reaching into my bag of ideas and coming up with something creative for us to do, play, sing, dance, cook, paint, but this year has been less about what we are going to do and more about how we are feeling. We have talked about what we have lost and what we miss… A year(s) without birthday parties, trips to see grandparents, sleepovers and even a cancelled trip to Disney.
Obviously we want our kids to be happy, but it is just as important for them to also experience sadness, anger, loss, frustration. All of the feelings are a part of their emotional health and wellness. Not allowing our kids to feel the big feelings of emotion doesn’t make them go away, but rather tucks them away deep inside, undealt with. Teaching them how to deal with emotions is just as important as anything they can learn in school. Mental health and wellness is the foundation for happiness.
We can’t control the world, so we need to help our kids be prepared for how to deal with the big feelings the world will throw at them.
So where do you start?
I listen to how she is feeling when she felt left out or how she was embarrassed when she didn’t know the answer. I then ask her how it felt, giving her the opportunity to be heard. I share in those moments the times I felt left out or embarrassed. I provide options for her to consider vs. telling her what to do and how to feel...
“I bet that really hurt your feelings when you were left out.”
“Mommy felt that way before when I was in school.”
“Do you think you could play with other friends or ask to join?”
In these moments, not only am I helping her find ways to work through the problem and giving her tools, but I am building trust and connection with her. I always emphasize that she can always come to me and we can talk and work through it together. She is not alone and I am here to listen and support her.
I am building the foundation and trust now so later during the brutal teenage years (we all know them), she comes to me and knows I am a safe space.
Something I have found useful is that we talk every night before bedtime. We talk about feelings. I share how I overcame my fear at work with a presentation and how even though I was afraid, I was brave. We talk about feelings around drop off at school, words she heard that day, and sometimes it’s about food and if she can have dessert tomorrow.
Real change starts with real conversations!