Want to know how to support your child's emotional health as they go back to school? There are two vital skills all parents will benefit knowing to guide their kids through transitions, like re-starting school successfully. I'm going to be on a podcast about this that will air soon.
First, kids need to fully experience and release their emotions before they are ready to regulate or move on to problem solving or school work. Part of feeling them is experiencing the emotional energy physically in their bodies so it can release and not get stuck there.
Second, as they express their anger or hurt or sadness they yearn to be validated. That they make sense.
As I parent, I'd make this same mistake over and over with my kids. Especially during the first weeks of school as transitions were tough on them. I'd want to keep us all feeling good and happy, assuming they'd feel excited over seeing friends and having new experiences.
But they'd come home complaining about their teacher, or that one friend was excluding them, or that they didn't have enough lunch. I could tell they were tired and grumpy, getting irritated at everything I'd suggest.
Then I'd make it worse by trying to distract them from feeling upset, saying things like, "Well, at least your one friend was nice. At least you had a lunch made for you. I'm glad you have an experienced teacher, even if she's strict."
Trying to be rational and keep things in perspective, I'd end up invalidating their experience. Why did I unintentionally keep talking them out of their hard feelings? Because I was so uncomfortable with their anger, anxiety, hurt and pain. I thought my job was to make them feel better. Wasn't it?
Turns out research from the Greater Good Science Foundation shows experiencing emotions and releasing their energy is crucial to mental health.
So the next time your child feels angry, anxious or hurt S.T.O.P. and let them feel. Use the below skill building flyer to help create new SEL habits (social emotional learning).
Stay tuned... Part II on how to emotionally validate will be coming next week.