What is emotional stability? It took me awhile to find out what emotional stability was and how to raise my children with emotional stability. Growing up it was never talked about. Even as an adult I didn’t know what that was until I had kids. Raising children made me aware of something that didn’t sit well with me. I didn’t like how I was talking and raising my kids because it was the same way I was brought up & I hated it! I did some research (as I always do) about “how to raise confident kids” and stumbled upon an article about raising emotional stable kids. That line lit up my face. I thought “hell yes teach me how” because clearly knew nothing.
Emotional stability is when a person can balance a way of perceiving problems. It’s okay if this is new to you. Maybe your parents wouldn’t talk to you about your emotions or they showed you unhealthy ways of dealing with emotions that you later on picked up. Maybe your parents got angry or upset when you would express emotions so that taught you to always hide your feelings or feeling guilty for having emotions. Whatever the case was, back then emotions were almost never talked about and if they were it always had a negative narrative on how you shouldn’t be feeling these feelings. Especially if you were a boy. Boys are taught to “tough it up” “be a man” “boys don’t cry”. That’s though to hear throughout your life. And for girls to be called “sensitive” whenever we would feel upset. That’s tough too. There is no measure of how hard and painful it is to grow up and feel your emotions invalidated.
Whether your parents had good intentions or not, your emotions were dismissed. This sends us so many wrong messages that as adults we will have to correct, if you’re lucky enough to realize that your emotions are in fact valid. Some adults today still carry the weight of hiding their emotions and shaming themselves for feeling feelings. This is why it is so important to talk about it, not only for ourselves to heal and grow but to teach our children this so they don’t have to deal with the trauma that comes with having their feelings invalidated.
We need to know and educate ourselves and others that emotions are a normal part of life and an important part of life. Our emotions serve us, it signals things for us. This is why we need to welcome emotions with wide arms and learn how to cope with them.
It is possible to break this negative cycle and raise emotionally healthy children and it will take a few things for you to learn to guide them through their emotions instead of punishing them for it.
Your actions, validations and understanding will be one of the most important tools you can use to help them.
Telling them that even thou all behavior is not allowed all feelings are allowed and feeling those feelings are also allowed. For example, just because my 5 year old is angry he can’t have ice cream for breakfast doesn’t mean he can go hit his brothers.
Helping your child label their feelings is helpful.
In order for them to label their feelings they must first understand their feelings. Children are going to need help with all of this because they don’t know how to deal or understand any of it. So when your child is angry and sad sit with them and try to understand WHY they are feeling these emotions. When you teach your child to identify and understand their feelings you help guide them to learn coping skills.
Empathy helps build a safe space between you and your child.
When you’re empathic with them you teach them acceptance of all feelings and that they are normal. If your wondering how to be empathic here’s a few ideas.
When you validate their feelings instead of dismissing them or being rude about their emotions is a way of showing empathy. So instead of saying, “you’re ridiculous for being upset about this” or “stop crying I’ll get you some ice cream” try asking how you can help them in this moment. As adults simple things like, getting upset because no one likes your idea for a fun Friday activity may not seem like a big deal, but your child in this moment it is the biggest deal in the world. Showing them empathy in these situations looks a lot like “ I can see how when no one showed interest in your idea it was so upsetting to you. I once had an idea for a game when I was a kid that no one liked and it didn’t feel great. I think you’re idea is awesome! Lets give everyone else a week to warm up to your fun Friday ideas so they can take time to realize that in fact it is a pretty cool idea!” This way your child feels safe, validated, and builds a connection between you both.
Sometimes asking kids how they feel can be a tricky way to go about it, especially if they are small children and don’t know how to label what they are feeling. Noticing their body, facial expressions, voice tone will tell you everything you may need to know about what they are feeling. Instead of asking your child how they feel ask them “ you seem angry, is that true?” That was they can easily answer if that emotion is similar to what they are feeling.
I hope all of this has been helpful in helping you guide your child to coping with their feelings and help normalize that emotions are normal and okay to feel, no matter what gender.