Emotional intelligence. I don’t hear this topic talked about very often and it’s relevant to everyone. Most adults (myself included) have never thought about striving to be emotionally intelligent yet we expect children to do just that. We expect them to learn how to behave, but we really never stop to think about WHY they misbehave in the first place.
How many times do YOU stop to think about, “Why does this upset me? Why did I act like that? Why did I take it that way?” I don’t know about you, but it took me almost 30 years before I started asking myself that question. Being able to ask yourself, “What’s really going on?” is so crucial to being able to have effective communication with our kids. In order get through to them, we have to understand them… and we have to help them understand themselves.
Everything is harder in life when you can’t have effective communication with the people around you and, personally, I would love for my kids to learn that as soon as possible.
Or, at least start that process earlier than I did.
Next time you find yourself getting upset with your small human, take a minute. Ask yourself what they are non verbally telling you about how they feel.
Lexi, my oldest, is 10 and has constant melt downs as it is… but lately her meltdowns are more frequent and more intense.
Her dad (for the first time since we separated 6 years ago) has a serious girlfriend AND due to a private family matter both kids are with me 90% of the time right now, so they also see their dad less. She misses him, she doesn’t want to share her time with anyone else, and she feels threatened by his affection for his girlfriend. It’s clear as day to me.
Also, keep in mind that Jeremy and I have dealt with this first hand already. She doesn’t take to change very well. It shakes her security with her place in this world which (as a child with abandonment issues) is fragile at best. It took her 3 years to say Jeremy’s name.
My ex means well but, like I said, we all struggle with emotional intelligence until we understand it. I want to help him talk to our daughter and I want to help her learn to work through her insecurities with us.
It inspired me to create a list of dos and don’ts when dealing a child’s emotional meltdown.
- DO remind them that they are safe and loved. Chances are they are insecure about their stability. Even if they can’t figure out how to say that, all a child REALLY wants is to feel safe and loved.
- DO practice thinking optimistically by focusing on solutions. They’re probably going to shoot you down (I know mine do a lot of times), but if you model optimism they have a much better chance at understanding it themselves.
- DO validate their feelings (remind them that it’s okay to be afraid/sad/mad ) it’s being hurtful that isn’t okay. What isn’t okay is being hurtful because of these feelings.
- DON’T blame the child for their behavior- remember they’re still figuring things out. Yes, they are responsible for their behavior and how they react… but maybe there is a bigger fish to fry. The underlying reason behind their behavior is much more important to focus on than the behavior itself. Once you can get to the root of the problem, you can focus on taking responsibility for your actions.
- DON’T don’t compare child to other children. Nothing is a bigger hit to the ego than being told, “Why can’t you be more like _______” or “________ blank doesn’t have this problem!” Don’t be the voice in your child’s head that is constantly telling them that they aren’t good enough.
- DON’T tell your child what they “really” feels or what they don’t have the right to feel. 1. You don’t know what they really feel. That’s ignorant. There’s no other way to say
2. This leaves them feeling unheard and less likely to talk to you about their feelings
in the future.
Obviously, I’m not perfect. I make mistakes and I lose my cool… but I’m learning every day. I’m doing my best to be mindful of these dos and don’ts with each meltdown. Trust me… we aren’t running short of those around here lately.
That’s the name of the game though, right? Learning from each adverse experience. Until next time, friends. Cheers… to making it work!