I was a little frustrated the other day. I was trying to keep it in and not show my anxiety to my children. I thought I was masking it fairly well. BUT Bella noticed and said, Mom, it is going to be okay. Do you need to breath and count?
Now, I am not one that believes in sugar coating everything. I actually believe in being very honest with my children (age appropriate of course). BUT I do not want my children to pick up on my anxieties or frustrations. For the real reason, that I do not want them to pick up anxieties that are not their own.
Here is the deal. Children are so perceptive. They pick up on everything. They feel our emotions and they know when we are happy, sad, etc.
In my situation above, I was both impressed that Bella has learned breathing/counting it out. She was perceptive and coaching me. I was also feeling awful that she picked up on my anxiety. How does that affect her? How do I proceed?
Here is the thing. The Life Experience is HARD! There will be many things that we experience and that our children experience that are uncomfortable, that are unpleasant, and maybe even cause pain (physical or emotional). We cannot protect them from everything. We may try or want to. It will not happen.
We will be dealt with challenging things. Sometimes painful, awful things. I firmly believe that we are not given anything we cannot handle and it always happens for a reason. There is a lesson to learn or growth to occur through this. We have control over very little. That is a fact. We do have control over our responses to these things.
It is not about masking challenges from our children, but using these as teaching moments to help them grow into success adults. If you are praying that your children do not become you OR that they do not inherit ________ trait; then you need to do some work in this space of your life. It is not just for you. It is for your kids.
Here are some spaces in your life that you can/should improve upon to share with your children how to positively work through challenging situations.
It is absolutely not SELFISH. It is ABSOLUTELY necessary to take care of yourself. This will help your children take care of themselves the way you want them to. You need to show your children that you are better, stronger, healthier when you serve yourself first. You need to exercise, meditate, etc. It helps fuel you. It makes you a better parent, wife, business woman, etc.
Make space in your calendar, in your day to take care of yourself. It will help you make better decisions, etc.
You would never tell your child or friend not to care for themselves. So, be a leader and show them how to do it. Show them why you do it.
We all have various levels of anxieties about different things. I get anxious when I do not know what the plan is. For example, when I know that I am going to be off or someone is coming into town, I become anxious. This is because I know that my routine will be different and I am unsure of things. When this happens, I simply want to shut myself in. This is not possible, especially with kids.
If you are worried about your children taking on similar anxiety responses, do not shut down. You know it is an issue. You cannot just hope that they will not see it or become it. Take the initiative to determine why this causes you anxiety and then come up with a plan to tame this anxiety. This is a process. It will take time for you to develop your tool bag. BUT this helps your children too.
I tend to work toward anxieties through verbal processing, journaling, meditation, deep breathing, and exercise. Again, I have control over how I respond. Your kids will model your action more than they will listen to the things you are saying.
Physical pain is something easier for people to work through than emotional pain. However, it is important for our children to learn how to work through this. There will be many scrapped knees and stubbed toes to work through this.
For me, my primary responses to pain formerly were to yell out naughty words OR to hold my breath. Neither are really productive substitutes to handling pain.
Deep breathing has actually shown reduce the pain. The other day I broke my toe. Legit. It was pretty painful. It was the baby toe. All bad things. BUT I responded with deep breathing through the pain. It did help!
Bella fell the other day and hurt her knee. She started breathing deeply through it with some prompting. It actually reduces the amount of crying and time recovering from the pain. It works!
We do feel sadness or other emotions from time to time. There are times you will cry. I do. I used to try to hide it like a “normal” person. You know the kind that melts down the moment they get into the car or when they get into the shower. It works great, right?
No one knows you are sad. Wrong! They will know.
Now, I do still cry from time to time in the shower and car. BUT if I do feel sadness around my children, I feel that it is okay to show it. It is an emotion they will feel and I do want to share with them how to work through it. They know that I am sad. So, I start to say I am feeling sad today. Can we snuggle a moment? Can we watch a movie? Or mommy just needs to sit here a moment.
This again shows them that they do not need to hide emotions, but we can work through them in the family.
We all have this from time to time. Underlying issue is often due to fear. Our kids get angry. Especially in their younger years. There is a lot of frustration in not being able to do the things that they want to do. As parents we have to say no a lot. I have to tell Bella that she cannot jump into the tub like a pool. Not safe. BUT it still frustrates her.
When she is getting upset, I work with her on deep breathing and counting down from 4. I do the same thing myself. Sometimes it take more deep breathing or walking around from the situation. Or asking for help. Bella does display this on a daily basis and does very well with this.
All of these are different emotions that I experience and have needed to build a way to work through these. This was the opportunity I found, when working with postpartum depression. You can make the decision to work through things anytime you are ready. Do not delay or wait until you fall or experience something like I had. Journal out the things that cause you anxiety/frustrations, etc. I would encourage you to really dig deep on this. Write beyond 20 or more things. This will help you get more comfortable and realize any issues that are out there. Then make a plan to develop these skills.
I would be happy to assist you with this process as I have been there. You will need to be open to be uncomfortable. You will find joy in this!