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How to help children listen and understand their emotions

As parents, we are the main role model for our children (even though we may not realize it). Being emotionally communicative is another layer that we have to add to our repertoire.

Let’s take a closer look on how we can be more emotionally in-tuned to both our children and our own selves:

1. Children’s Misbehavior: What is your child’s behavior saying nonverbally?

Defiant or purposeful non-compliance with rules is very expressive. When children engage in this behavior, they are trying to communicate something. We need to decode this message.

2. What is the pattern of this misbehavior?

How often misbehavior occurs (or where it occurs) tells us that the message is directed towards a particular person or occurs when a particular emotion is felt. Often, children act out rather than use their words. We should help them use language to verbalize their emotions.

3. Parents have multiple roles.

Being a parent is one of our many life roles. Another important role that we tend to forget is our sense of self. Let’s add this role as a priority by keeping in touch with ourselves and spend quality time with ourselves.

4. Fine tune our own behaviors and moods.

As parents, we have a lot of things going on. Daily stressors and unexpected events can throw us off track. Reminders of past negative experiences add extra fuel to our emotions. Staying in the present feelings (and resisting adding past emotions) to our current reactions, allows us to react appropriately to situations.

5. Multiple Influences in Parenting.

Our parental lens is influenced by many factors, including our own childhood. Many times, there are intergenerational characteristics (eg. cultural practices, behavioral patterns, emotional reactions, symptoms, and feelings) that are unintentionally passed down. Unknowingly, we take on some of our own parents' behaviors. Let’s increase our awareness of ourselves and actively choose how our narrative (life experiences) impact our parenting style. We can identify our triggers for negative emotions and understand what our own emotions are showing us.

In summary, being a parent can be rewarding, frustrating, and overwhelming (all at the same time). To learn how psychoanalysis can help with emotional communication, give us call.

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