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Thursday, December 31, 2009: (Emotional maturity)

        One of the essential tools we should give our children is emotional grounding. Many parents invest in their child’s intellectual growth, knowing that to compete in today’s  world requires an enriched upbringing. Yet, emotional maturity remains at the level of social toilet training: enough discipline to insure a child behaves within the social norm and does not act in a socially offensive or embarrassing manner.  All too often children learn to fit into polite society by burying, repressing and denying negative emotions.  They learn to lash out emotionally based on what they see in movies, video games or on the streets.

       As parents we can help children better understand and cope with their emotions. This requires accepting that children feel what they are feeling (and need to have someone hear their upset), assuring our child that many children feel that way in similar circumstances, and that it is common to even have mixed feelings (a process of identifying emotional responses). We should teach children to express their feelings as "I feel..." rather than complaining about other people's actions.  Once the child has settled down, we can offer multiple options for dealing with similar situations in the future.  Some children need help to pull themselves back under control; some need help expressing their bottled up emotions.

      Listening to a child doesn’t mean letting him or her whine and carry on. Repeating and rewording the child’s concern can often break that type of emotional roller coaster.  For major frustrations (with siblings, peer groups or parental rules), getting out pen and paper and listing the child’s concerns can help refocus the child on the issues instead of the emotions.  It’s important the child learn to express emotions in an adult manner rather than simply whine or pout. Some days, even for adults, it is enough to say you have heard the concerns, you can see the mood continues and while you go about your activities you will know the individual is having a rough day.

    2009 is coming to an end but our children's future is still full of bright options. To help them (or the child within us) grow emotionally seems a great New Year's resolution.

Posted on Thursday, December 31, 2009 at 08:12AM by Registered CommenterThe Skeptical Mystic | CommentsPost a Comment

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