One of the reasons our kids’ emotions can be often set off like fireworks stems from an inability to discern their feelings. This inability is something I see a great deal in coaching and see also an area where we as parents can come along side our kids to help them comprehend and guide there emotions.
When strong emotions hit that are not identified and communicated, kids quickly learn to cope by shutting them down or venting in anger. As I talk with them, they are unable to tell me what feelings they were experiencing when specific events occurred. They tend to answer, “it does not matter” (then shutdown) or “I was angry.”
It is essential that we help our kids understand themselves.
To help accomplish this we as parents need to:
- Curb our frustrations
- Move past taking the things are kids are saying and doing personally
By reacting, scolding, or lecturing our kids we increase the likelihood that they will begin to tune us out, shutdown or blow up. We miss the opportunity to help them develop vital skills for deep relationships.
Helping our kids understand and communicate their feelings honestly is a crucial skill.
They need to be able to:
The skills above can enable our kids as a person as well as when they are engaging with other people to realize what to do with their emotions. In my coaching I have found that skill is lacking in many marriages because our parents did not help us learn to discern and share our feelings in a productive manner.
When I am working with kids who cannot discern their feelings I find it helps when I list multiple potential feelings they could have felt given the situation we are discussing.
I share a short list of potential feelings. Examples like:
- Not believed
This often helps them begin to share a feeling or two that pertains to that situation.
As parents we can do the same. When we see our kid retreating, shutting down or becoming frustrated, we need to let them know it is ok. It is part of growing up. Share with them that it is important for them to begin to understand and share their feelings because it will help you better understand them. It will also enable them to sort out their feelings and often find a solution.
If they struggle at identifying and sharing their feelings with you, ask them why? They may believe from past interactions that they will not be heard, understood or that their feelings will be denied. Read the The Paradigm of Wisdom vs. Perspective blog for more insights. Assure them that you want to handle things differently and that you will listen and not correct their feelings. Then ask if you can share some possible feelings they may be experiencing that will help them begin to discern the difference between:
- More subtle things that can lead to anger like feeling dismissed, not trusted or valued
This skill will pay huge dividends in our homes and help them identify and make better decisions with friends and relationships they enter in the future.
Would we like more help to see how to be there for our kids emotions? Yes. Please join us on our website for a free webinar on Influential Parenting so we all can be there for each other.