Me: since I was caught up with what your sister was doing, is there a way you could have got my attention without screaming?

Daughter: I don’t know

Me: think

Daughter: I could have come close and touched you

Me: beautiful, what else?

Daughter: mummyyyyy!

Me: what else, just one more

Daughter: I could have waited for Makiya to finish before saying what I wanted to say

Me: fantastic!! Say all the different ways you could have behaved instead of shouting to me again.

As parents, we have so much power and we are not even aware of it. One of the roles of parenting is to help our children regulate their emotions and not suppress them or allow them run wide.

This is a skill that will guide them through life, many of us are where we are in our lives, relationships and work because we lack this vital skill of regulating emotions, we were either raised to suppress or deny out feelings or given liberty to express our emotion without control or regard for others around us.

In our experience with behavioural issues and addiction, more than 70% of the people we worked with, we could trace the underlining reasons for their deviant behaviour to an unmet or suppressed childhood need, common underlining reasons include: rejection, didn’t have a voice, unloved, not accepted, felt like a misfit, felt controlled always told what to do and how to do it, couldn’t breathe my parents where always in my business and so on.

Researchers found that children that were raised to be emotionally intelligent were less likely to get into alcoholism, drugs, addictions, and other forms of delinquencies in their teenage or young adult life. They were better able to cope with peer pressure and had less adolescent crisis than their pairs who were not coached emotionally.

I often hear people say we do our best to raise our children but no one can really know/control how they come out (in regards to behaviour) all we can do is pray for them. Understanding and practising emotional coaching as parents would reduce to the large extent the dependence on fate regarding how our children turn out.

Little wonder the book of ancient wisdom says; ‘wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom: and with all your getting get understanding’.

By asking my daughter to tell me other ways she could have handled the situation better did these;

1) I validated her need to be heard, this is a basic need. Saying things like ‘sa bi sa bi’, ‘I T K’ etc communicates to the child; ‘I don’t care what you think’, ‘your need to be heard is inconsequential’,’ you don’t have a right to feel how you feel’, ‘it is selfish and not accepted here to have those feeling let alone express them’.

When the child goes out and meets any person or group that listens without judgment the child will be willing to do whatever it takes to remain in the group.

2) I helped build her self-esteem and worth in herself and her ability to make good judgement by not handing down solutions to her but helping her come up with her own solutions.

3) She knows that I will listen, as long as I keep nurturing this trust she has in me, it will be easier for her to open up to me during her teenage years and allow my influence. Many parents complain of being shot out by their teenagers this could be part of the reason. They didn’t feel secure enough to tell you their feelings and needs without been judged or preached at for having them.

4) As long as I continue raising her this way, she will go through life trusting her judgement and not seeking validation from everyone she meets.

 This is sometimes why people stay in a bad relationship, they have low self-worth and despite all the nasty stuff done to them in the relationship they get some level of validation or they feel they are lucky to find this person and may not find another to love them.

5) By asking her to tell me other ways she could have acted, I was teaching her to take responsibility for her actions despite the actions or reaction of the other people involved.

Notice I didn’t say next time I will make sure am not too catch up not to notice you because my job as a parent is to prepare her for the world and not shield her from it. And I know it would be impossible for her to control the behaviour/actions of any person other than herself. I, therefore, sent her on a journey to discover her own power to choose a line of action in the midst of chaos.

6) Learning to analyse her behavioural choices and creating options also known as behavioural flexibility will be an asset that she will go through life with.

At every given situation, she will be able to adjust her behaviour with ecology to get the best outcome. Life’s situations differ, a behavioural choice that may be appropriate for one situation may not be for another, hence the need for flexibility. Wouldn’t it be fun to have this attribute as second nature?

Consistently I keep sending the message to her unconscious mind that all emotions are permissible but not all behaviours. It is okay to get angry sometimes, to get sad sometimes, to feel guilty or jealous sometimes, etc

Before you can give anyone around you the permission to have and experience their emotions especially when that person is your child, you would have had to give yourself the permission to own your emotions and feel them. Have you given yourself that permission?

I have written primarily focused on younger children but this doesn’t mean that if your child or children are at their teenagers years, it’s too late to do this. As long as they are still in the nest you can begin at any point to teach them these skills, but remember that they may not be as receptive immediately but with consistency and patience you will reach them.

After we had come up the four alternative ways she would have acted, I asked my daughter if she understood what to do next time, she said yes. Then I asked if there was any other problem. She said ‘no mummy, only that I haven’t said what I wanted to say in the first place and I feel like it’s not important to you’.

I immediately assured her that if anything was important to her it was also important to me. Then gave her the go-ahead to say what she so desperately wanted to say. 

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