The impact we have on our children is massive. I know that feels like a weight to carry. That’s because it is. I know that is anxiety raising. But let’s use it as information to do the best we can.
As parents we have to show up for our children, which means getting good at managing our own feelings. Phrases like, ‘They’ll survive, ‘Your behaviour is embarrassing’ and You’ll just have to get used to it’ are, quite frankly, damaging. Not because they’re untrue, but because when our children hear those seemingly harmless words, they will feel isolated, alone, shamed, blamed and maybe threatened. These are hard things to hear. These moments sit in the background, informing our children what to expect from us and their relationships with others. They’ll sit in the background, forming our children’s beliefs about who they are, trust and what relationships look like. These phrases spring from our mouths almost instinctively, because it’s what we heard as children. We struggle to hold the words back because we’re feeling big, uncomfortable feelings ourselves. It’s tough, but here are some good reasons to start working on your own emotional regulation (I promise you, you can do it):
But there’s something to remember. They’ll be times when it’s hard and your efforts to stay calm amongst your child’s big feelings don’t work. It’s OK. It’s good enough that you’re trying and you’re doing it a lot of the time. There’s a magic word you can say to your child when this happens. That word is ‘sorry’. There's a lot of power in that one little word.
3rd – 9th February 2020 is Child Mental Health Week and the theme is Find your Brave, which is a fabulous topic to discuss and raise awareness. Children (and adults too!) often think that being brave is something that confident and super successful people achieve with ease. But that’s far from the truth. When people are being brave, they don’t even feel brave. Usually, children associate brave with being fearless. Helping them to understand that brave is usually accompanied by anxiety, nerves and fear is a great foundation to them believing they are braver than they think! As a child, I wasn’t taught the difference and so to me, everyone seemed to be braver than I was. I was such an anxious child that I was actually being brave daily! And when I really was being brave, I often heard phrases like, “see, it wasn’t that hard was it?” It’s the way parents parented in the 1980’s, but a simple rephrasing would have been far more empowering and a confidence boost for me (see suggestions below).
Bravery looks different to each of us. Our experiences form the way we respond emotionally, so one person might have to dig deeper for courage than another in the same situation. Being brave isn’t only about facing challenges, but also about saying no or disagreeing with someone. This could be especially true for children under peer pressure. In this case, following their gut feeling could show real courage. This could easily be interpreted as being scared or weak unless we empower them with knowledge and celebrate their brave moments.
Here’s some suggestions to help you talk to your child about bravery:
And here’s some things you could say to empower your child to help them find their brave:
Being brave is closely linked to having a growth mindset. When children don’t fear failing and are willing to have a go, they really can find their brave. And when you empathise with them and talk about times you’ve been brave too, they’ll feel the safety and security they need to step out of their comfort zone.
Hey! I'm the founder, creator and voice of Ink and Scribbles. Sharing thoughts on child well-being and parenting that are based on my teaching and parenting experience, and NLP learning.