As I look back over my adolescence, I realized that I had no outlet for my feelings. I didn’t know how to identify my sadnesses or communicate my frustrations. So, I began to dig into the issues of my young adulthood and saw that many of the choices I made were based on the lack of self-awareness, productivity, and validity.
Many parents don’t know how to begin a conversation with a child about their feelings and express empathy. I remember noticing that once my 7 year old reached a certain age, I encouraged her to be “tough” and avoided her emotional outburst.
In 2013, Forbes magazine stated “When you teach kids emotional intelligence, how to recognize their feelings, understand where they come from and learn how to deal with them, you teach them the most essential skills for their success in life. Research has shown that emotional intelligence or EQ “predicts over 54% of the variation in success (relationships, effectiveness, health, quality of life).” Additional data concludes that “young people with high EQ earn higher grades, stay in school, and make healthier choices.”
I began to search my heart. I wanted to create children who could effectively communicate, who could talk to me about the truth; no matter how bad the truth was. Was I cultivating that type of relationship with my daughter; was I allowing her to be herself no matter how I thought she “should” be? Was I cutting her off when she was trying to express her feelings?
My first step: Practice Responding, Rather than Reacting.
There’s a subtle but important difference between responding and reacting. I would become triggered by my own past or frustrations and lash out and never explain why I was so furious.
I realized I needed to talk more with my daughter about all of my emotions and feelings. Children understand a lot more than we think. In order for her to understand how to communicate and handle her emotions; she needed to be showed by me leading in example. Not only was I suppose to explain my frustration and anger but my happiness too. I needed to explain problem solving so she’d know how to positively deal with every emotion. I wanted her to see me overcome so that she felt she could call me or tell me and wouldn’t feel like I would judge her, cut her off, or downplay what was important to her.
I have to own my mistakes, acknowledge my feelings, and then communicate my feelings proactively.
I need my children to know that there are often moments where they will be alone but NEVER lonely; they are whole; holy. “Mommy is human too” and I make many mistakes but mistakes can be fixed, they are never the FINAL destination but the anchor for self reflection.
From the map of their palms, compass of their heart, to the temple of their head…they have purpose of their own.
Here’s s to raising children that are self-aware and secure in their beings.