In my part 1 blog about meta-emotions we spoke about how our reactions to certain feelings, meta-emotions, can have a negative consequence in our relationships with our partner and how communication helps with this. Today, we are speaking about how meta-emotions can influence our relationships with our children. More importantly how being crystal clear about your meta-emotions is of the utmost importance when dealing with your children.
The majority of children’s feelings ignite strong emotions in the adults close to them. Many times the issues are not complicated but the resulting emotional avalanche the child sets off around them becomes more complicated that it needs to be. They need and depend on the adults in their lives to help them when they feel out of control and are stuck with what to do about it. They need you as their trusted guide.
Adults who feel unprepared to deal with such passionate emotions want the negative feelings to disappear and quickly. As a result they turn to dismissing, making light of or reprimanding their children when they express certain emotions, such as anger, sadness, anxiety and fear. Unfortunately, these kinds of parental reactions, over time, will result in a child who has learnt that his/her feelings are wrong and inappropriate, they may think something is wrong with them because of their feelings, and they have trouble regulating their emotions. As they grow up, they will become more and more disconnected to who they are.
Depending on the environment we, as parents, grew up in, emotions were either welcomed or not. If not then, let’s be mindful about it and decide today to make some changes. Research has shown that children who grow up in an emotion welcoming home are on a completely different trajectory in life than those who are not. They are more social, do better in school, are happier, can problem solve more effectively and have higher self-esteem. And who doesn’t want that for their children!
It’s never too late to begin emotion guiding with your children. The first step is to begin with oneself by opening up our own emotional world.
If you or someone you knows feels like they need some help talking to their children about emotions, please contact me. I’d be happy to help.