A wise woman recently said to me that the only way we can truly connect with our kids is if we self-regulate emotionally. I had to think about that for a bit, as I initially thought she meant to control or shut our emotions down…which is not what I am about at all! I am all about connection as well as acknowledging and feeling our emotions, but sometimes these two aspects can seem contradictory in peaceful parenting.
So how do we connect and self-regulate? It all depends on the definition that you give the words…but of course parenting is not about definitions, or shoulds or shouldn’ts…. It is about ‘being’ with our kids in a way that they most need to grow to their potential. To do this we need to be the role-model for who we want them to become.
It is only by ‘being’ this ourselves that our children will learn how to cope healthily with life’s amazing highs and the inevitable lows that they will all have to face.
This is where I feel the real meaning of self-regulation comes in…. as without self-regulation our emotions get in the way and we cannot connect in the heart space.
When you are triggered what do you do with your emotions?
We all have unhealthy knee jerk reactions that we unconsciously fall back on…things that were unfortunately role-modeled to us when we were children. Losing it, dumping onto someone else, blaming, shaming, raging, projecting are all knee jerk reactions born from some underlying, unresolved emotional baggage that is hiding in the basement of your being. And of course the exact opposite of those strategies such as shutting it all down, silent treatment, sweeping it under the carpet, eating/drinking it away, denial, withdrawing, playing the victim, beating yourself up, …the list goes on!
There is another way however and that is to acknowledge your feelings and feel them…without projection or shut down.
This is where true self-regulation comes in.
When we are aware of our feelings and willing to feel them consciously, without blaming, shaming or projecting … even if it is anger, irritation or the excrutiating pain of deep loss, we are role modeling emotional intelligence to our children that will serve them throughout their lives.
Studies have shown again and again that emotional intelligence EQ is a far greater indicator of happiness and success in life than intellectual intelligence IQ. So welcome your emotions conciously. Start to have a healthy relationship with that younger you who didn’t have the tools or the permission to really allow the emotions to be fully felt.
So to really be the gardener of your child’s soul, the best place to start is always watering your own!