As parents, we tend to focus on what to do about our children's emotions, but it's wise to start by simply noticing them. Sometimes we assume that we understand what our child is feeling without really paying attention. Sometimes we even to forget the importance of understanding in our rush to help them or set limits or get something done.
Considering some basic emotions (fear, anger, sadness, joy, surprise, and disgust/contempt are considered by basics by some researchers), do you know how your child expresses each? Every emotion has a physical component, and it can really help to get to know how each is expressed physically.
When your child is scared (anxious, worried, nervous, feeling excluded), how does it show up in his body? Are there characteristic physical gestures, body movements, facial expressions? How do his eyes look? What does he talk about?
When your child is angry (aggressive, jealous, indignant), how can you tell? What do you notice about her physical expressions including gesture, expressions, tone of voice? Where does she go? What does she talk about? What do her eyes look like? Does she get restless or still, hot or cold, loud or quiet?
Consider the same type of questions for each emotion, noticing how your child looks, moves, and expresses sadness, joy, surprise, and disgust. When you are curious about your child's emotions, it helps you to shift from reactivity to curiosity. This creates space, allowing you to respond more slowly, more thoughtfully, more spaciously. What a wonderful gift for a child! This week, see if you can cultivate more awareness of your child's feelings and less action.
My life and work are guided by the these core understandings: that all beings (including me!) are capable of transformation and joy, that healthy parenting matters profoundly, and that simple practices can support each of us.