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All we want for our kids is for them to be the happiest, healthiest & kindest versions of themselves possible. Raising emotionally intelligent children in today’s world is a challenge to say the least. Before we begin we must stress that we aren’t experts or psychologists – or even parents who have it all sorted! But we truly believe parenting, like most things in life, is an evolution and the sharing of real-world examples can help us all. We also wholeheartedly think that when parents come together as a ‘community’ in a supportive way, it can be vey powerful. We all share a common goal, and that’s to help our little people become the best versions of themselves.
So we thought we’d put together some of the more practical pieces of advice we’ve heard and used. We’d love to hear your tips too in the comments below 😊
Most important one: Give yourself a break!
For every book or article out there, there’s at least another 10 that say the exact opposite. Dealing with children isn’t easy, nor is it a one size fits all job. We are not at our best when we are at our lowest and that’s OK! You know the days when it’s all just chaos and sh*t everywhere you turn. There’s laundry everywhere [seriously it’s like it replicates whilst you sleep], the kitchen looks like a tsunami has been through it, your kids have more dirt and crap on their face and fingers than the local rubbish tip. Kids are demanding, they are exhausting and it’s a bloody hard job. So, on these days, just give yourself a break, do whatever it is that helps you get through the day. Tomorrow is a new day and it’s TOTALLY ok if today was just crappy! We all have days like this, and I just figure you, quite literally, can’t win them all. BUT we love those grubby, noisy and relentless little people more than life itself and they know that – That’s all that really matters.
You know them the BEST
No one – honestly no one – knows your children like you do. I cannot count how many appointments with doctors and allied health practitioners we’ve had where I have had to be clear that something isn’t quite right or it was “just different for them”. And almost 100% of the time we are right. We know every little quirk and personality trait and even our own kids, in the same family, are totally different from each other, how they deal with emotions and situations are completely different. I think knowing this is important. One of my girls is so stoic and just handles things really well (she’s been through a lot in her short life and I think she just copes with thing better than her much more emotional younger sister). Knowing your children’s normal – not a textbook version – but their own personal status quo is key!
Talk about EVERYTHING
Raising emotionally intelligent children (and adults) is all about understanding all the different emotions we feel, how to cope with them constructively and help them to learn to be aware of their own, and others, emotions. Let’s be honest, parenting is stressful, it’s not easy and no two days are the same (unless you’ve been lockdown like us for months 😊). How we respond to our own emotions and reactions teaches our kids how to respond to their own. It’s ok to be angry I think, it’s ok to feel sad and disappointed. In the same way it’s ok to be happy and excited. Emotional awareness is a vital step to developing emotional intelligence. If you think about it, it makes complete sense – if you are aware of something your understanding will be far greater than without any awareness. Talking to your kids, asking them about what they are feeling, getting them to label their emotions and how it makes them feel is an easy place to start. Talking about your own emotions and reactions (yes out loud like a mad person) will also accelerate this emotional awareness.
Emotions bring us closer
We think the more we talk about how we feel, why we feel a certain way and try to understand how we react to certain situations, the closer we can become to each other. We foster that safe place for our children, not just for protection and security but also for counsel and advice or a place to just ‘work things out’. Children who understand their emotions, feel comfortable talking about them openly and don’t feel shame about they way they feel often are able to show more empathy to others and this, in turn, builds emotional trust and intelligence. There are lots of great tools out there to help children and parents talk about and discuss emotions in interactive and fun ways, we particularly like the Slumberkins range as they couple a connection with an emotion, a comforting toy and a book to learn more about a particular feeling.
Help them find THEIR solution
It’s often easier just to fix things. Remove them from that situation, apologise for them etc. But how does this help them learn how to do it “better” next time. All feelings are acceptable, but not all behaviours are. It’s up to us, as parents, to set these limits. It’s easier said than done I know and we won’t get this step right every time – and that’s ok too (we are learning here as well). Solving your little one’s problems, apologising for them or making right poor behaviour is not up to us. Ask them to think of ways to make the situation better, talk with them about the values that are important to your family, explain the impact of their behaviour on others and then let them think of ways to rectify this situation. This doesn’t have to happen in the shopping centre, right there and then (as we all know we just want it to be over quickly in that instance), but revisiting a situation when things are calmer can also help. But at home, or in a comfortable environment it’s best to address the behaviour in real-time. We often find reading a book at bed about the BIG emotions they felt that day helps a lot too.
So now we are experts….
Bahahahaha , As if ... let’s be brutally honest! It’s so easy to write great advice in a blog post like this but parenting just isn’t a walk in the park. It’s the toughest gig out there, it’s an unpredictable roller-coaster and some days you’re killing it and others you’re just in survival mode. I think for me, parenting brings out the very best and the very worst of me – and often all in the one day. I couldn’t love my two blockheads any more, but there are days when I want to walk out that door and never come back. BUT.. I keep telling myself it’s a journey not a one-off performance and it’s ok to iterate along the way. They know I love them, they know I care deeply about who they are growing in to and they know I’ll always be here with open ears and heart – And that’s winning at parenting for us!
Do you have any great tips? We’d love to hear them!