As parents, we can help our children learn to process their emotions in a healthy way.
Often, people have trouble accepting BIG feelings like anger, frustration, disappointment and sadness from small children. They are expected to be light-hearted and happy little bunnies all the time.
The truth is though, that we all have a whole range of emotions. Only, children are still learning how to deal with them and express themselves appropriately. We all experience things like anger, frustration, disappointment and sadness from time to time. As humans it is healthy to process these feelings and express them from our bodies. If we bottle them up, they become stagnant and will bubble up again a later time. Manifesting as things like aggression or biting and in adults as things like addictions or depression.
We can help our children become emotionally literate by teaching them that ALL emotions are perfectly normal and needn’t be hidden away. We can help them learn to recognise what they are feeling, let it flow through them and then release it in a healthy way.
How? Here’s an example:
Recently, my 5 year old was very tired (when children are tired they find it harder to repress emotions – we all do – which is why you’ll often get tears and tantrums towards the end of the day) Anyway, he got very frustrated with his Dad and started hitting him. I stepped in and held his arms firmly, telling him that I could see how angry he was but that in our family we don’t hit each other. I picked him up and carried him to the bedroom. As I closed the door, I see him physically relax a little into the quieter, darker space. I told him it was ok to be angry but that we can’t hurt people when we feel that way. He told me why he got angry. I listened to him and validated his feelings, letting him know that I understood.
He asked me for a wrestle.
This is one of his favourite things to do, especially when he needs to release some strong emotions. This is a good physical way to let out such feelings without hurting anyone.
Watercolours are another wonderful tool for releasing emotions. Not surprisingly his painting is dominated by red. Then he goes off to play happily.
About an hour later though, the feelings bubbled up again and it seemed that he hadn’t finished releasing his angry feelings. We went back to the bed. It was safe. Peaceful. Archie told me to go away. I told him I would not leave him alone with such big feelings. I would stay with him while he’s upset.
There’s a great article about this type of scenario called “Go away!What to do when your child won’t let you connect” here
Archie talked about the little rabbit from the book “When I’m feeling Angry” and how he hides by himself when he is angry.
Then he burrowed under the doona and told me that he’s hiding in there like little rabbit and won’t come out.
(By the way – these books are amazing! We have the whole set and love them!)
I cuddled the lump under the doona and told him that Mummy Rabbit loves Little Rabbit so much and is just going to run him a lovely bubbly bath (in the ensuite)
I added lavender essential oil to help calm and ground him.
As with the watercolour painting, a bath is great to soothe the soul and help release emotions.
Emotions are governed by our Sacral chakra and the element of Water. This is why water seems to help them flow so much.
We maintained our connection throughout the anger. He was never punished. His feelings were validated and he was given love, acceptance and tools to help him work through the emotions.
1. wrestling/ physical play
2. watercolour painting
4. essential oils
5. a book
What do you use to help weather the storms of your kids emotions?