Being a parent is a demanding, challenging and never-ending job. Not an hour goes by when I am not thinking about what is best for my boys, am I doing this parenting thing right, what can I be doing better, and praying they turn out to be intelligent, productive, confident and happy adults - who then in turn, raise their children the same way.
No one can prepare you for being a mom - not your friends - not your mom - not even the book "what to expect when you're expecting"!
Quite often I feel so overwhelmed with all the emotion that happens with these little humans. Then come the emotions of a hubby who is responding to their emotions.....pile those on.....then comes mine! Ugh! Sometimes it feels like all control is lost and I start to shut down. So, if I feel that way.....I can't imagine what my kids are feeling.
Typically, I reach for some essential oil blends to help manage the out-of-control emotions our family goes through, which I will touch on a little later on. Instead of just putting a band-aid on the problem, is there a way to help our kids understand their emotions so they can learn to better manage them?
Imagine if you will this story about a meltdown we experienced last week with our 4 year old, Easton.
While I prepped my one year old, Oliver, and got him in the stroller for our walk around the neighborhood and stop at the park following dinner, Easton was inside getting his shoes on. When my hubby and Easton met Oliver and I at the end of the driveway for our stroll, I noticed that Easton had his shoes on the wrong feet.
Usually this is not an issue, but it was that night. We put a small dot on the insides of both shoes so that he has an easy time determining which shoe goes on the right foot - because the dots kiss each other when they are on his feet. BUT.....Easton got new shoes that he was wearing for the first time that were not marked yet.
So, I asked him to sit down on the grass to change them around before we started on our walking adventure. Who knew by asking a simple request that a full-blown meltdown would occur!
He yelled, "NO - I am NOT doing it!"
I asked again. His response was the same, but just much louder this time.
Now frustrated, my hubby then asked him to fix his shoes in a loud and forceful voice.
As you would expect a 4-year old to respond....."NO - I am NOT doing it!" but this time he was louder than the last and he brought pounding fists on the ground to the "party".
Each time Easton was asked to fix his shoes, we got louder and he got louder...until he was screaming and flailing his arms.
Side Note: Prior to this episode, he had not napped at daycare, struggled with wanting to eat his dinner and just being overly sassy, so he was already on edge.
So, in that moment, my hubby was getting angry at him, started to yell back and then just picked him up, kicking and screaming, and brought him inside.
This week I found research by Dr. John Gottman that shows emotional awareness and the ability to manage feelings can determine how successful and happy our children are throughout life. By helping our kids be aware of and manage their emotions allows them to be more confident, smart and well-rounded.
Plus, it will probably help us as parent too!
Here are 3 do’s and don’ts for building your child’s emotional intelligence.
1. Do recognize negative emotions as an opportunity to connect.
Use your child’s negative emotions as an opportunity to connect, heal, and grow. Children have a hard time controlling their emotions. Stay compassionate, loving, and kind. Communicate empathy and understanding so that your child can begin to understand and piece together their heightened emotional state. Try saying, “It sounds like you’re frustrated! I totally get it,” or, “You seem so angry right now. Is it because Sandy took your toy? I completely understand why you’d be angry.”
Don’t punish, dismiss, or scold your child for being emotional.
Negative emotions are age appropriate and will eventually subside as kids grow. By disregarding their feelings as insignificant or sending the message that their feelings are bad, you are in effect sending the message that they are bad. This damaging perception can stay with them throughout adulthood.
2. Do help your child label their emotions.
Help your child put words and meaning to how they’re feeling. Once children can appropriately recognize and label their emotions, they’re more apt to regulating themselves without feeling overwhelmed. Try using phrases like, “I can sense you’re getting upset” or, “It sounds like you’re really hurt.”
Don’t convey judgment or frustration.
Sometimes our kids can do or say things that are downright unacceptable and it’s hard to understand the emotions that seem unwarranted or irrational. But try putting yourself in your child’s shoes. Ask questions, seek understanding, and convey to them that you’re on their side, you support them, and you’re there to hold their hand through those moments where things feel overwhelming and tough.
3. Do set limits and problem-solve.
Help them find ways of responding differently in the future. Enlist their help in seeking alternative solutions to their struggles. Kids yearn for autonomy, and this is a great way to teach them that they are capable of self-regulating themselves in a world that seems unfair and particularly upsetting. Remind them that all emotions are acceptable but all behaviors are not. Here’s a great phrase to set limits and aid in problem solving: “I understand you’re upset, but hitting is not okay. How can you express your feelings without hitting next time?”
Don’t underestimate your child’s ability to learn and grow.
They have an innate capacity to develop into high functioning adults who can problem-solve and respond intelligently to life’s dilemmas. As children, however, they need a listening ear, a hand to hold, and a parent who can challenge them to reach from within and respond accordingly.
Doesn't this just seem like common sense? Don't we all want our emotions to be recognized? No one wants to be punished or judged for having an emotion! I know I don't! It is how we feel! So, can you image how a child would respond if they are not being heard?
Sometimes we just need to adjust how we, as parents, deal with and react to our kids and their emotions. It is our job to help them understand how to manage them! We can all take these pointers and start to apply them to ALL our relationships.
What we could have done differently with the shoe meltdown.
Instead of escalating our voices and dismissing the way he was feeling, we should have acknowledged his frustration so that he knew we recognized his emotion.
We could have said, "Babe, you seem really frustrated. Are you upset that you have to take more time to fix your shoes because you are excited to go to the park? It is ok to be upset, but throwing a tantrum is not ok. How about we switch your shoes around super fast, so we can hurry up and get to the park and have some fun instead of sitting in the grass and getting ants all over our legs. Then, when we get home we can put some dots on your shoes so it will be easy for you to put them on right the next time."
As mentioned earlier, when emotions are out of control in my house, we typically reach for our go-to essential oils to help calm the madness. So, combining our use of essential oils with the tips above, we may have a better system to handle our emotional meltdowns in the future.
Here are a couple of my favorite blends to help each member of the family! :)
This blend comes in handy when our kids have sensory overload and emotions are out of control. The peaceful child bend can help stabilize, nourish and protect nerves. It helps restore feelings of hope and mental strength and promotes a positive outlook. It assists in Easing the pain behind anger and trauma and quiets mind chatter.
This Peaceful Child blend can be made using : vetiver, ylang ylang, frankincnse, clary sage, lavender, and marjoram, which is topped off with fractionated coconut oil in a 10ml roller bottle.
Apply the oils to the bottoms of their feet and you can even diffuse this blend!
One common emotion dads tend to feel is frustration. Frustration rears its ugly head in all forms of actions and other feelings; yelling, anxiety, anger, shutting down, depression, and so many other things. Read the blog "Frustrated Father: One Way to Manage the Frustration".
Try this Mom's Had It blend to help you overcome *anger *frustration *anxious feelings.
Be calm again mamma....you got this!
Life may not always be sunshine and rainbows but with the emotional aromatherapy oils, you'll be feeling lucky every day! I know in our home, we sure feel lucky to have these tools that can support our body through the ups and downs of daily life.
Motivate- For the middle of the day lag when you just want to take a nap OR for a boost to get that spring cleaning tackled. Encourages feelings of confidence and courage.
Forgive- For those little (or big) mistakes you just need some help moving forward from. Helps to counteract feelings of anger and guilt.
Passion- To get you moving in the morning and feeling excited about life. Reignites feelings of passion and inspires creativity.
Cheer- When you just feel a bit groggy or sad and need a little bottled up sunshine to clear the fog. Promotes feelings of cheerfulness, optimism and happiness.
Peace- For an unsettled heart or a busy brain that just won't power down at bedtime. Promotes feelings of reassurance, contentment and composure when anxious feelings overwhelm emotions.
Console- When you just need a little emotional bandage to make it all better. Promotes feelings of comfort and hope
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