Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I Feel You...

The ladies had just settled down at their lil' blue IKEA table to enjoy a special activity, watercolor. Bibs were in place, cups were full of water to clean their brushes off with, papers were clean & white & ready to be painted up by the lil' toddlers' brushes. The girls' smiles could not have been any bigger when they finally heard the words, "Go ahead & get started". Asher reached for her new clean pallet of paints & at the same time accidentally knocked her fresh water cup all over the table. Papers were now soaked & Asher began to cry, "I am so sad I knocked the water over, Mommy". I quickly told her how it was okay to be sad about it, but she also had to understand that it was an accident & those happen sometimes. This whole thing could easily be fixed with a few paper towels, some new paper, & a fresh cup of water.

Between 2-5 years old children really start to explore emotions. They are going to experience everything from anger to disappointment to sadness & so on. As parents it is our duty to help them learn to identify which emotion they are feeling & guide them through the appropriate way of handling them. Its definitely okay to feel things & its important to be able to verbalize & express how we feel, but it is also important to understand that while some ways to express emotions are okay, other ways are not. For example, if a child is mad at the way another child is not sharing with them, they do need to be able to say how it hurts their feelings when that child chooses not to share but punching them, grabbing the toy & running away with it or throwing a tantrum are not the best solutions.

Right now my kiddos are definitely in the early stages of identifying their emotions. I do my best to help them first identify how they are feeling by using the key words, "How did that make you feel?". Sometimes kids like to go to the blanket answer of  "I don't know", but in my book that is not an acceptable answer. Kids are smart & we need to encourage them to use those brain powers. At first you may have to guide them through it, "When your friend Sally chose not to share with you, how did that make you feel? Did you feel happy, like laughing & singing? Or did it make you feel a little sad, maybe like crying?". After you have worked with them to identify which emotion they have felt, then you can work together to help them formulate a solution, "How do you think we could fix this? Maybe you could try letting Sally know how that hurt your feelings when she did not share with you?". Maybe you could even help the other child to understand by saying, "Sally, what if someone did not want to share with you? Would that make you feel good? That would not be a very nice choice". This could help "Sally" understand having the feeling of empathy towards others, not just thinking about how she feels, but also thinking about how the other person might feel in a situation.

Since I have been working with the ladies more & more, I have definitely noticed a change in how they communicate, "Mommy, I felt disappointed when you said we could not do that" or "I was very excited we got to go to the park today!". It is amazing to see kids so young expressing themselves beyond throwing a fit, pouting, screaming, and/or lashing out in anger or frustration. As parents, we have to know they are capable & raise our level of expectation. I cannot stand when someone sees a kid throwing a fit in a store because they didn't get something they wanted & people simply say, "Kids just being kids". Since when is that type of behavior okay? Since we decided to accept it & excuse it off.

In addition to helping your kids understand emotions through talking with them, there is also some really great literature out there that is written in such a way your child can easily understand it. You can also make or buy flashcards showing kids the different faces with the corresponding emotions on them. My kids & I are doing a craft where we are going to go through magazines & cut out the different faces we see that express different emotions.

1 final note before I close. While it is okay to feel sad, angry, disappointed, frustrated, & so forth for awhile, we also have to teach our kids that we do not let the negative emotions stay in control of us. We can't let these emotions dictate the rest of our day & our attitudes. We have to find a way to "push past" them, overcome them, change what we are thinking, & ultimately, choose joy. This is something some adults even find challenging within themselves sometimes. And while teaching and equipping our children with this very important tool of "rising above", we too must do our best to make sure we are modeling the same thing we are imparting to them.

You can't make your kids not feel things, that is just not healthy, but you can teach them the proper ways of handling different emotions.

-M&M Momma

Hanging @ Pepa's house for Father's Day

Compliments of her sisters

Out to eat with Papa for Father' Day

Play date!

Having fun at their buddies' house

Having fun with Zayden!

After 1 crazy tea party, lol

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