We all have a desire for our children to be able to handle their emotions easier right? It can be a challenge to listen to your child cry when you feel the situation doesn't warrant crying or to witness your child scream at you when you feel you didn't do anything to deserve such anger. The truth is our children are still learning how to handle their emotions until they reach 20 years old or beyond. I know a 9-year-old child can seem like an adult sometimes, but a 9-year-old's brain is still developing and still needs to learn how to handle emotional reactions to what life brings them. It is our role as a parent to stop, observe and teach our children how to handle their emotions. We come across many situations throughout the day when we could teach our children some emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence means being aware of the emotions that drive our behaviors and being able to manage those emotions. This also applies to the emotions of others around you.
As a parent you may try to avoid arguments and conflict with your child whenever you can, (I am guilty of this!) but the argument or disagreement can be a valuable lesson for building emotional intelligence. The argument should lead to a post-argument discussion and this is where the magical lesson can occur. How you handle the resolution can be a great lesson of identifying emotions and problem solving how to better handle emotions in different situations.
Here are four easy steps we can take during the post-argument discussion:
1. Assess emotions: Explain to your child how you are feeling and ask them to identify the emotions they feel.
2. Admit self-responsibility: Your child will learn a lot more from you if you are candid about your part in the argument. Letting go of your ego and admitting that you shouldn't have reacted a certain way will help your child see that it's okay to admit what we feel we did wrong and that nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes.
3. Apologize for your reaction: After you admit your reaction was not helpful to the situation, release your ego a little bit more and say you are sorry. Modeling is the best way to teach your children to learn to say sorry!
4. Agree to learn and grow: Each conflict is a possibility for emotional growth. Discuss with your child how both of you can learn from the situation and decrease the chances of the disagreement occurring again. Help guide your child to come up with ideas on how to handle his or her own emotions.
Our children depend on us to teach them to be emotionally intelligent adults that can one day enter the world alone and be perfectly fine with what emotions are stirred in themselves and others around them. When the opportunity arises, remember to Assess, Admit, Apologize and Agree!