Hello! I hope that you and your loved ones are well.
In my home we are now just entering into our fifth week of being home with no school. Emotions are running high and both children are needing quite a lot of emotion coaching at the moment. I really love the work of Professor Marc Brackett and want to share with you a couple of his quotes that I really relate to at the moment:
"Hurt feelings don't vanish on their own. They don't heal themselves. If we don't express our emotions, they pile up like a debt that will eventually come due."
Sometimes it's tempting to say "Stop crying!" and "Calm down!" (these are phrases that I have definitely used more often than I would like!). It's much more healthy for us to address what is really going on. That takes a lot of time and patience, it isn't easy and it isn't pretty! There is often crying, shouting, accusing and also snot to sit with. I wouldn't say that I have this completely covered 100%, but on the occasions when it has worked, it has been because I've held back from talking and have listened and offered hugs. Stopping a child from expressing their emotion doesn't make it disappear. Another quote of Marc's that I love is:
"Labelling your emotions is key. If you can name it, you can tame it"
This is where the coaching comes in. When children are upset, it isn't enough for us to say "It's ok". Quite often children don't even know what "it" is. In fact a lot of adults find it hard to label their emotions.
In practical terms, this is where you reflect back the emotions that the child is feeling and also validate them. For example "You are feeling really disappointed that your brother doesn't want to sit on your bed for the story, he said he would and now he's changed his mind and that is really upsetting. It's hard when people change their mind, being disappointed doesn't feel nice, would you like a hug?" works better than "Stop fussing and go to sleep!". Experience of both strategies have taught me that although it's quicker to snap, it doesn't lead to a quick bedtime!
I am not a perfect parent. I do not communicate with my children like this all the time; those who know me well will attest to this! But I do believe that the emotional literacy of our children is key to their well-being.
I have realised that at times when we are being creative, we find it easier to talk. My children often share thoughts or worries when they are doing or making. With this in mind, I have interviewed theraputic arts and drama practioner, Lindsay Jane Hunter about creativity at home. I will be sharing the link to this on Tuesday evening in the facebook group Julia Hankins Well-Being at Home. It can be accessed at anytime, in it Lindsay talks about the benefits and practicalities of bringing creativity into your home, even if you don't feel creative. I loved chatting about this and I hope that you will find it useful.
Keep well and keep safe
In my blog, I reflect honestly about my experiences of trying to enhance the well-being of my own children.