Parents often wish they knew how their children feel before situations get out of control, yet many parents don’t know how to communicate with their children about feelings effectively and sometimes worsen the situation. This is where one of my favorite conflict resolution strategies for parents comes into play: and it’s all about sharing these feelings.
Parents need to share their feelings with their children for several reasons.
First, it helps parents get in touch with their feelings. If you are not aware of your feelings, you will not be able to recognize or appreciate what your children are feeling. Next, sharing feelings is how parents model safe and appropriate ways to express feelings. It is your opportunity to live a helpful life hack: you have the right to how you feel and responsibility about how you express it. Last, it helps families build the skill of perspective-taking, which is essential to relational safety and conflict resolution.
Now that you know why you must start sharing your feelings with your children, how do you start?
A significant aspect of being a Mindful-ish™ parent is effectively communicating your feelings to your children without shaming or blaming them. Genuinely sharing your feelings with your children takes practice. Here are six specific steps you can take to develop this ability.
If you apply these Mindful-ish™ conflict resolution strategies for parents, you’ll be telling your children how you feel with assertiveness while maintaining your integrity and offering respect:
Examining your own set of emotions is much different than noticing how your children are behaving. Avoid focusing on your children, at least initially in a situation. Stay inside yourself to determine how you feel.
If you want your children to hear you, they must be able to focus on your words. To be heard, it helps to think about time, place, and situation.
Avoid being afraid to tell your children how you feel. If you state your feelings with confidence, your children will listen and respect you. But if you feel unworthy, your self-doubt will reveal itself in the discussion.
Even though you sometimes might experience intense feelings, take special care in moderating your voice tones while expressing emotions. Using a calm voice tone makes it easier for your children to hear what you’re saying.
Finally, in your efforts to express yourself, show gratitude for your children’s willingness to listen. After all, children have a choice to tune in or tune out. A word of appreciation to them for taking the time helps to build strong relationships. Saying, “Thanks for listening,” shows you appreciate their efforts in the exchange.
Sharing your feelings with your children takes practice. As you apply these strategies, you’ll improve in your quest to reveal your feelings to your children without shame and blame. And remember that your parenting goal is to be Mindful-ish™, not perfect.
In Mindful-ish™ Parenting, 20% of the effort yields 80% of the results. You can get big results from just that little bit of effort – the 20%. Once you become skilled at expressing yourself, you’ll be well on the road to better communication, problem-solving, and harmony with your children.
A resource I recommend in aiding the development of your feelings vocabulary, increase self-awareness, and connect with your big kid, tween or teen is the Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Feelings Wheel.
Research shows that labeling our emotions moves us from “being” to “feeling.” The more specific we are, the better we can process our feelings and change our moods. We can decide to shift or stay and play!
Increased self-awareness is the first step to improved emotional intelligence. It can lead to enhanced self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
Start using the SEL Feelings Wheel to move away from your standard answer about your feelings, like, “I’m fine,” and identify what you are genuinely feeling. Click here to grab your copy!
I empower parents and teachers to feel calm, capable, and confident so that they can problem-solve and create new possibilities with their children.
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