The result of this regard of negative emotions is that we are not equipped to deal with them. When they come about, we are at a loss. We push them inward or react to them, and lash out.
Yet even negative emotions are just emotions.
Accepting that you, as a human being, are allowed to have a vast range of emotions, that they are normal and natural, is the first step towards a mindful approach of emotions.
Let's take anger.
As a child, most of us have been corrected swiftly and harshly when we portray this emotion. "Stop it right now", we exclaim to the angered child. "If you continue like this I will..."
Most of us have been shamed when in anger: "If you would see how ugly you look when you're angry."
Or our feelings were brushed off, annihilated, diminished: "There's no need to be angry. Smile."
Parents have many many ways of dealing (or should I say undealing) with anger, most of them detrimental.
Children are urged to quickly get over their emotions, instead o encouraged to get through them. There's no blame here, this is just the way most of us have been brought up.
But we can help our children get through their anger, deal with it instead of repress it or act upon it. So can we with our own anger.
As I mentioned before, the first step is acceptance. Telling your child that anger is normal, that she is 'allowed' to feel frustrated or angry if they voice that they aren't. Hopefully, you shouldn't even have to tell your child they are entitled to anger, but the chances are, they'll quickly catch on that anger is unacceptable in Western Society.
The second step to working through your anger is to feel it but don't act. Don't talk, don't lash out. Tell your child they can feel their anger. Encourage them to tell you how it feels, so they learn to recognize the emotion when it comes up. Tell them, it's ok to be angry, but it's not ok to scream or hit. Read these approaches to deal with anger to have some tools to avoid knee jerk reactions such as screaming or hitting.
It takes work, but we can reroute our brain to deal with anger, and just as importantly, we can help our children process anger in a healthy way.
- The One You Feed: Handling Our Emotions - Karine Murphy from The Wilde Womb writes about consciously choosing to regulate her own emotions so her children can too.
- The Inauthenticity of Anger - Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses how when we ignore our true emotions, they manifest in authentic ways.
- Unconventional Un-Mad, Unconditional Love - Amber from Heart Wanderings reflects on how her responses to her son's anger has shifted from shutting him down to supporting them both, through both conventional and unconventional methods.
- Anger is Just And Emotion - We tend to get frightful around strong emotions, especially the ones we categorize as negative, yet when we remove the weight, we unlock a different reality. Find out more at Authentic Parenting.
- Anger and Parenting - Being human means expressing a full range of emotions, including anger. Shonnie at Heart-Led Parenting shares her struggles and successes with honoring her anger without unleashing hurtful behavior toward her beloved daughter.
- Anger In Parenting - A Round Up Of Supportive Posts - Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama has written a lot about anger in parenting on her blog. In this post, Jennifer shares highlights from previous posts which include Unrealistic Expectations As Parental Anger Triggers; Addressing Your Anger; Ways of Reconnecting; and Considering the Impact of Anger Towards Your Children.