First and foremost we have to be realistic with ourselves. We set the environment and tone for our interactions with our toddlers. Our little ones have zero self control or experience with their feelings. We are teaching them what they know. And to complicate things a tad more this means our emotions are getting caught up in the tide. We are only human after all Super Mommy.
But we have a choice with what to do with those emotions, ours and theirs. Feelings are a part of life and they shouldn't be suppressed, instead liberate 'em and give them healthy verbal expression. Young children can detect our moods even without a full capacity to understand, so there is no use in hiding them. They will imitate and model what they see as they build their feelings library. Good news is we can strengthen their ability to self regulate. And we can do this by simply remaining calm and showing our littles that we can handle their big emotions with tremendous love.
This stage of development is challenging in its own way because so many of the cues are not as forthright as walking or talking. Much of what first expresses itself goes on under the surface of what we see with the naked eye. If we can learn to identify them, we can help our children by giving them appropriate language to validate or associate their experiences. For instance in the middle of a tantrum we could offer them some calm language like, "You are so mad right now. I can see it in your angry face." Or when you notice your child reacting to something joyful say, "I see you're happy. I can tell by your smile." This helps them put words and feelings together and builds cognitive awareness tools to start to process what is going on internally.
Understanding the emotional development of your children and using effective communication skills to navigate feelings will help shape your child into a healthy adult. And speaking of healthy adults, this is a time when it is imperative to dial up our own awareness. We want to be role modeling emotional intelligence rather than losing hope at every tantrum or frustration in the wild life with toddlers.
That last bit is personal for me. I speak from my own experience with a recognition of a need to do better. And, the work I've done to do so has led me here to share. This is a call to action for all the mommas to be consciously aware of our own emotions so we don't burden our children with whats not theirs. If this is something you have tapped into but aren't sure how to shift through, start with a breath and offer yourself a little grace along with your child.
Beyond in the moment tools I use meditation, yoga, and simple mindfulness to enhance my interpersonal relationship with my children. These practices give me a solid foundation from which my system can operate and take the tax of motherhood.
What's it they say?
There ain't no hood like motherhood.
Couldn't agree more.
Word to your mother.