Lately, we have been working on the girls getting a better understanding of their emotions. They already have a pretty good grip on the basic ones like "happy" or "sad", but now they are getting a lil' older they are starting to learn that the range of emotions is a lot broader. The other day one of them told me they "had butterflies" when they were referring to eating too much at dinner time & another 1 of them told me they were being "a lil' dramatic" when they were talking about being excited about getting some juice-A lil' off, but that's okay. Emotions like "disappointment" when something does not go quite your way or feeling a lil' bit "nervous" when you are trying something new are all natural things to feel from time to time are all new adventures for a toddler. BUT that being said, it is also important for kids to learn the most productive ways to express them, overcome some of them, & so forth
After Aidann said this, I have to admit that at first I was caught a lil' off guard & surprised. She had said it with conviction & I think she truly believed that because she let me know she was not feeling her nap today, I would go right ahead & let her forgo her nap for today or something. Pump the brakes please because last time I checked, I was the adult & she was the kid. I got down on her level & looked her straight in the eyes. First, I did want to validate her feelings by saying, "I understand that you may not feel like having a nap today...." but then I had to to go on & let her know that "....sometimes we have to do things that we may not necessarily like. I am your mom & you have to trust I know what is best for you. You are going to lay down for nap time. They are good for us & that is why we take them". She took the whole talk really well & did end up taking a great 2 hr nap.
This situation was a good example for teaching Aidann about how sometimes our feelings may not necessarily line up with a task we are being asked to do, but at times we are going to have to overcome how we feel & put those emotions aside because it is what is right & necessary. I am glad I can teach her this principle now, because in the future she is not always going to feel like doing a lot of things (cleaning her room, doing homework, washing dishes, or going to work) but I will have hopefully given her the tools to be able to press forward anyway & choose joy while doing it. That will definitely point her towards success!!!
Training our children to deal with emotions begins earlier then a parent might think. That first time you see your 1 year old outright throwing a tantrum because things are not going exactly their way is the very same day it is time to get busy & start putting in work. In fact, it can start even earlier than that! Let me throw out a few examples. Picky eaters. This topic is something I am passionate about & I am sure some people might agree with this point of view, but I think that picky eaters are made. Let me just elaborate. Yes, maybe the first few times you stick those not so great smelling peas in your babies mouth they spit them out, but what you do from here determines a lot. Do you stop feeding them peas because they "just don't like them" & give up? I say "no". They may not feel like they like peas right off the bat, but we know the ultimate result of those peas will provide-They are good for them, healthy. Later on down the road do you want to have a kid that spits stuff out every time they don't like it? From a young age we can teach our kids that good eating habits are necessary, that even if we don't feel like doing something it does not mean its not a good thing. Another example of when training starts early is when a toddler starts throwing a bit of a tantrum when out & about because they feel tired or are out doing something they may not necessarily feel like doing right then (like shopping or going out to eat). Is it a fact that they may be tired or rather be doing something else? That could absolutely be the truth, but it does not give them the right to throw an all out tantrum & have a crazy melt down. Now, am I talking about a newborn? Absolutely not. I am leaning more toward that 18 month area when they start becoming a lil' more capable & you know they can practice a lil' more self control. We can't teach them to rely on excuses, because there will always be 1 if you are looking. We have to help them learn how to overcome & chose better. This also requires us to not make excuses for their behavior even when it is hard & they might even be embarressing us.
Understanding emotions & finding the most productive ways to handle them is a constant thing. Even as an adult there are times I do not necessarily feel like being consistent with my kids everytime & following through, but I have to lead by example & choose different. I can't tell you how many times I have had to stop right in the middle of pumping to handle business, but I do it because I know I am ultimately going to make my life easier & its going to greatly benefit my kids in the long run. Sometimes I do not feel like expressing some things to my husband in a productive way-lol, but you know what? I need to try. Emotions, emotions, emotions.
Well, I wish you all the best in this area of parenting. Remember, its not just a 1 day deal. You are constantly going to come across new hurdles of emotions with your children as they continue to grow. They will experience more & more situations where the depth & range of emotions they feel are going to increase, but do not give up. Its all about working through it, helping them understand while you also try to to understand (validate). Its not wrong for them to feel, you just have to help them understand the best ways to express & overcome some of those feelings whatever they may be.
For young kids, it is good to read them books where the character feels different things & talk about it along the way with things like "How do you think that made him feel?" or "Have you ever felt like that?". Look at babies or kids around their age in magazines that they will be able to relate to showing different facial expressions & help them to understand them (someone happy, mad, sad, etc). Drawing pictures can help them to express or relieve emotions. As they get older maybe keeping a journal & writing about how they feel. Dinner time is a great place to facilitate being open to talk about things & situations members of the family may be experiencing. For kids who tend to bottle up emotions (ME lol), sometimes they may take a lil' while to come out with what they are feeling right a way, but just let them know that you are there if you notice them acting a lil' more down. I have also found some other great ideas on Pinterest-Teaching Emotions that could help. Feel free to email me if you have any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org :)
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