I took my children to make their hair a few months back, as we entered the building a woman sitting with her daughter noticed my daughter holding a toy guitar and immediately asked that we do not come in with it.

 I looked at her in amazement as she went on to explain how her daughter will fight and beat up my children just to have sole possession of the toy.

One of our duties as parents is to help our children emotionally regulate, many of the challenges children would face as young adults and how successful they will be, will depend on their ability to manage their emotions.

Our success as adults in relationships, work/career pressure, handling life’s challenges and so on, is also dependent on how much emotional control and flexibility we have.

But what is emotional regulation?

First of all, it is essential to note that all emotions are permissible but not all behaviours. In scriptures, God refers to himself as a jealous God; we also see references that he was angry. In effect saying that on their own these emotions are not wrong or evil, it is when they are allowed to become all-consuming, and we go-ahead to act on them without examination that they become a problem.

Regulation starts by having an awareness of one’s feeling and naming it appropriately. Secondly, finding options for expressing or realising the emotion ecologically as parents teaching these skills to our kids gives the child(ern) an edge as they relate with their peers and the larger world.

It is vital to allow our children to express all range of emotions when they are with us without us jumping in to manage, dismiss the feeling or prematurely solve the challenge for them; this gives us room to teach them the needed skills for a successful life.

A parent can be either

 Permissive: letting the child have and do anything they desire, finding it difficult to say no to the child’s every need, low discipline for wrong behaviour.

 Dismissive: Showing disapproval of the expression of any perceived negative emotions by shouting or punishing, tickling an angry or sad child to get them to laugh and forgetting their pain, buying a gift or giving a snack to a child when they are expressing ‘negative’ emotion, buying another pet in other to stop the child from grieving the loss of their pet.

Coaching: teaching the child to label their emotions, applying appropriate discipline for wrong behaviours and ensuring to help the child solve-problem – helping them find ways of expressing and ways to handle such feelings in the future.

Nancy Oblete

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