“Dear Proud Ninja Parent,
On my hard days, remember I am small.
When tears run down my cheeks and I don’t even know why, remember I need you to grab a tissue and dry my teary eyes.
When something happens that I didn’t expect and I yell, scream and fuss, remember even in my anger, confusion and frustration that I love you very much.
Because you see, I am little in a Great Big World! And you are my #1 Guide. Together there is nothing we cannot face because I know you’ll always be by my side.”
Let this truth really sink in… You, in all of your amazing awesomeness, were chosen to be your child’s guide, their leader and biggest fan in this wonderful life! How incredibly beautiful is this truth!
As each of our children navigate through the ebbs and tides of their lives, they are constantly learning and gauging new experiences as they test the boundaries and limits. Every day brings new opportunities for growth as our children work to find their voices, stepping with intention into their truth. Truly, us as parents are all bearing witness to a one-of-a-kind love story ever in the making!
Throughout the journey, there is action, drama, suspense, thrills and chills all coming together to create an intricate masterpiece! Along the way, are there challenges and obstacles? Certainly! And no child is delivered to us with an instruction manual. Each are unique and brilliantly exceptional individuals, striving to find their way and their path with you ever holding steady by their side.
But how can we as parents purposefully support our children emotionally in their ever growing and evolving journey into adulthood?
1. S.T.O.P: See The Opportunity Parents!
When your child comes to you feeling big feelings, honor the space and time you are in together. Acknowledge, appreciate and cherish the trust they have in choosing you to confide in. Our children are constantly facing new challenges and experiences they have never faced before. Some of those experiences you will be able to empathize with 100% having lived through them yourself in your own story. But others will challenge you both to grow, stretch and lean into each other like never before!
2. Bear in Mind the Developing Mind:
If emotions are running high and are shifting into overdrive, understand that the “upstairs brain” is shutting down and the “downstairs brain” is taking over. When the “upstairs brain” goes offline, all logical centers and ability to reason are compromised as your child is stuck in a state of fight, flight or freeze. It is important in these moments to remember:
- Take a deep breath and count backwards from 3 before responding, seriously! Be the parent your child needs you to be.
- Remain calm and grounded. Escalating with your child when they’re already in a dysregulated state will only add fuel to a blazing fire!
- Ensure safety is in place before stepping away if you need a moment to compose yourself.
- Allow space and time for your child to express themselves. Honor their voice by saying, “I see you. How can I help you?”
- Validate their feelings, educate them on what is happening physically, mentally, emotionally and/or socially as it pertains to the circumstance and collaborate with each other to decide upon next best steps.
For more information on the “Upstairs and Downstairs Brain,” a concept that was introduced in the book “The Whole Brain Child,” by Dan Seigel and Tina Payne Bryson, please check out this great YouTube video: https://youtu.be/dk1Nt-xnSGI.
3. Take Action:
Remember parents, that depending on your child’s age and stage of development, they may or may not yet have developed the appropriate vocabulary, a means by which to verbally communicate and express what is emotionally happening in their mind, body and spirit in a moment of dysregulation.
Consider if your child is struggling in this form of expression to help them identify what is happening in their body with the help of a body scan check-in. Learning to identify what is happening in one’s body when emotions arise takes practice. Just as we have to flex our physical muscles in order to strengthen them, so too do we need to learn how to read the cues of our body to respond appropriately! Here is a sample of a body scan check-in that children can use to identify the following, giving us useful insight into what is happening physically, mentally and emotionally in a distressed child:
- Thunder in the head.
- Shaky shoulders.
- A nervous tummy.
- Hot hands.
- Wiggly legs.
As a SKILLZ Childhood Development Center, we constantly strive to support not only our students but our parents and families as well far beyond the mats. If you have not already checked out our Parent SKILLZ Program, we highly encourage you to do so! Parent SKILLZ homes in on eight specific skills including Connection, Attunement, Patience and Nurturing just to name a few. By nurturing your own skills and development as a parent, you are taking intentional and purposeful steps to be able to better support and care for your child as they grow into who they are meant to be!