Friday, January 27, 2012

Managing Our Emotions Around the Kids

Ever have a bad day or day that did not go as planned and all you wanted to do was just come home and vent, cry or crawl into your bed and hide?

I know I have. And, I know there will be many more moments like this in the future.

As a parent I often feel that I need to keep my emotions somewhat in check when around my four-year-old, as I have experienced with her in the past her seeing me upset and then her getting upset as a result.

I love that Sarah is so caring and loving, but she often tends to grab on to my emotions and become impacted by them. She wants to be with me in the moment and feel what I am feeling. It's really sweet. Sometimes she gets sad if I am sad because in her mind, "Why is mommy sad?"  It's as if the universe of a child experiences a shift when they see mommy, or daddy, not act like how they are supposed to, at least in their eyes.

As parents, we are human too.  Yet, having feelings regarding specific situations that make us lose control, get angry or feel out of sorts can be confusing to young children especially if we are not in the right frame of mind to help explain or simplify it. We sometimes need to show our strength to our children even in times of weakness or sadness when all we really want to do is have our own tantrums in private, to protect them.

I'm am in no way suggesting that we as parents should hide how we are feeling around our kids, especially if we are sad. However, there is a time and place for everything. It's indeed important for our children to learn about life and the various emotions that can be experienced from day to day but to be careful not to appear too overwhelmed by an emotion such as extreme sadness or frustration as children do scare easily and get upset quickly without fully understanding the magnitude of a situation.

Children will benefit from understanding that life is unpredictable and that sometimes things do happen that cause us to have feelings and emotions of various kinds, and that sometimes we may experience being scattered, exaggerated, and out of control without reason.

In situations, especially where young children are involved, it's sometimes too complicated to explain to them what we are feeling, or the situation itself, so as not to upset them or that it's too convoluted for them to comprehend.

Sometimes we may just be too caught up in our emotions of a situation that we ourselves may not be coherent or capable of communicating in a reasonable fashion for our children to understand.  In certain instances, it may just be best to wait until after the kids are asleep to let it out or process what's on your mind.

All I can say is that sometimes life is not how we plan it, no matter how hard we try to organize it, and we have to find ways around the many twists and turns and help our children to understand that we too, are human, have feelings and do get sad or upset, happy or thrilled, angry or frustrated, and more.

It has been a challenging year for us on a number of fronts and it feels as if we have weathered a number of unexpected storms. Thankfully, there has been a plethora of wonderful experiences, happy moments, and shared joys to round it all out otherwise I might not have good reason to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Fortunately, I have a wonderful husband, dear friends and family to help me keep it all in check.  Sometimes I will share what I am feeling with Sarah if I feel she can understand what I am going through or just ask her for a hug and tell her that mommy just needs some extra love and kisses while I experience a challenging time.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  You can also make lemon cupcakes. Or, how about lemon margaritas?

What ever life throws our way, whether it is predictable or not, we still need to be careful of how we show those emotions in front of our kids as they can get scared by the uncertainty, upset by the unknown and overwhelmed by the unexpected.

Here's to doing as best as we can as parents to figure life out as we go, help our children to understand that the paths that lie ahead of us are not always straight and smooth and can indeed be very curvy and bumpy.  Engaging with our kids as much as possible and being honest with them to a point where they do not develop worry will help them to understand that we are all human and experience many feelings: good, bad and indifferent.

How do you handle your stress, sadness and frustrations in the presence of your children?

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