Happiness Is Contagious: The Importance of Parental Modeling

Have you ever looked at your child as she was slamming her bedroom door, and felt a tinge of familiarity? Not familiarity in the sense that you are family, but more in the way that she is doing something that you might possibly have done in one of your less-than-perfect moments? If your answer is “No,” look harder! We’re sure there are some behaviors that your children have picked up from you, even if they may not be as obvious as slamming a door.

Actually, this process is completely normal. Kids learn from watching their parents. And as much as we sometimes want them to do as we say, and not as we do, it doesn’t quite work that way. Children are sponges, and when they see their parents responding to situations in a certain way, they are very likely to do the same. This is both a blessing, and a curse, but because we are positive folks, let’s focus on the blessing part.

Knowing, as we do, that kids pick up behaviors from their parents, we like to help parents learn to model, or demonstrate, certain healthy reactions. One of our favorite reactions to talk about is:

Managing Emotions.

For example, what do you do when you get angry? Do you slam the door? Yell and scream? Or, do you clam up like, well, a clam?  How about when you are sad? Do you try to hide your sadness from your kids? Do you tend to overeat, or start nitpicking?

Knowing how you respond to various emotional states will not only help your children, it will help you as well. Actually, we believe that it is a key component to emotional wellness, and that it’s so important that it should be taught in in schools, but that’s a different point.

So, what’s a healthy way to handle your emotions?

Contrary to what most people have been taught, hiding or pushing down emotions doesn’t work. In fact, when you do that, you are setting yourself up for a big blowout down the road. A better way to deal with feelings is to:

Acknowledge Them:

Recognize when something is going on with you. Start to learn your signs. What are your red flags? Do you start feeling uncomfortable in your stomach or chest area? Scan your body and notice where your tension arises. Then try to put a label on what you are feeling. Not sure? Check out a feelings chart for clarification.

Honor Them:

Find ways to respect what you are feeling. Keeping a journal, or talking to someone you trust are great ways to validate what’s going on inside of you. Whatever you do, don’t judge what you are feeling. There is a big difference between feelings and actions, and you have a right to feel any emotion.

Let Them Go:

All feelings eventually come to an end. They are transient, by nature. Allow your feelings to come and go, as they were meant to, without holding on too closely to any one emotion. This will keep you balanced and ready for whatever today’s parenting wheel of fortune has in store for you!

If you would like to talk more about learning to manage your emotions, contact us. We are here to help!