Holding Space For Little Emotions
Updated: Jun 23, 2021
Parenting is no joke and that’s saying something coming from me because for the most part (and being totally bias) my kids are A-MAZING. Here is the kicker, I believe my kids are as amazing as I believe they are because I truly believe my husband and I are doing something right as parents. Are you ready for our secret trick to being amazing parents who have amazing kids?
We welcome all their little emotions as they are and we encourage them to sit in their own emotions to figure out the root feelings.
Yeah ok, that is not it but it is a really big deal to have your 11 year old daughter come home and tell you about how she was bullied on the at lunch and how she was slow to react because she was figuring out why she was so mad. She realized it started as her feeling embarrassed and below that feeling was a feeling that maybe she didn’t belong, which under that was really her feeling not liked/unloveable and it made her want to "fight back".
It always comes down to us feeling lovable or not. We get mad or scared when we feel powerless and that is really our fear of us being unlovable. It is us thinking we aren’t good enough and when we feel this way, we push back by shutting down and detaching or getting aggressive and big.
This revelation didn’t come naturally to me either so please hold the applause. A lot of it came from reading Brene Brown’s books on vulnerability as well as listening to a plethora of Super Soul Sunday conversations.
The other part is us teaching our kids that their emotions are a good thing and that they are there to teach/lead them through life as long as they allow them to move through their little minds and bodies. It is also great for my husband and I to learn this lesson ourselves! I was raised being told that I was too emotional, an actress, a drama queen, too sensitive, too girly and made to feel like my basic needs made me high maintenance. I most likely have said to my oldest a few times that she’s “just being dramatic” and making her feel ashamed for her emotions instead of actually allowing her to feel safe and letting her talk me through what she was feelings so that I can help her figure out the real why. You see, when she comes home and tells me how so and so said something to her and it hurt her feelings, my initial mental reaction is always “Im going to go to school and push that little 5th grade garbage bag into the wall and tell them that Santa isn’t real and it’s all their fault.” But, then I sit in my own emotional response and figure out why on earth that’s my knee jerk reaction. My mom and dad were both a little bit on the out spoken and aggressive side, so that’s an inherited trait of mine. Also, it’s a hurt feeling from when I was in 5th grade and I felt left out and not good enough often. My single mom worked hard and long days to afford our home and because of it I was seen as a problem child who was always home alone which meant my friends weren’t allowed at my home. I also didn’t have nice new clothes all the time growing up because like I said, hard working single mom doing her best, and that just added fuel to my little 9 year old fire that I wasn’t good enough because I knew (even at that young age) that my friends mom’s didn’t like me. I saw it as me being unworthy, not good enough, powerless and unloveable. Yes, I am triggered back to little 6, 8, 11 year old Brittani whenever one of my babies have a bad day or a mean friend. I was a fighter then so I’m still a fighter now. It's my reaction. But now I’m slow to sit in my own emotions to help myself heal and move forward which allows me to do the same for my babies.
An added lesson we teach our kids and one that I see EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. in my boutique, it's imperative to know the difference between shame and guilt.
Shame: You’re bad.
An example I see in my store is “Stop touching things. We aren’t going to the park unless you’re good and you’re not being good right now.” Do you see how this is making the child bad because they aren’t listening to the parents demand of “stop touching things.” They aren’t bad but their actions are and that is what needs to be addressed.
Guilt: You did something bad.
An example of how I speak to my kids when they are being obnoxious is, “Ellie I need to know you’re listening to mommy and right now I feel like you’re not and it’s making me feel disrespected. If you can’t listen to mommy then we can’t go to the park today.” Do you see how I’m making her not listening to me the bad thing she is doing and not her? Not listening is bad, she is not. Also, she is hearing me call out my emotions, “I’m feeling disrespected”, and recognize them which will help her stop, recognize, and clearly communicate her own emotions to others in the future.
This means we don’t say things to our kids like, “be good or else…”, because that would immediately imply that they aren’t good already. When they do mean things or things that annoy us as parents, our response is NEVER, “you’re bad”, but it is, “that was a really bad choice, you just did/said something that was really mean/hurtful etc.” They can make mistakes alllll day long and they can do bad or obnoxious things, but at no point in time are they themselves bad. We are made and created in love by love. Bad simply can’t be apart of our DNA. We are good. We are love. We are humans who make mistakes and do bad, but it’s important to really know and accept the truth that we are in fact NEVER bad. We welcome guilt in our family because you can learn from guilt and make a choice to not do something again or to try harder/be better next time around, but we do not allow shame in our family. My babies, myself, my husband and you are good and our bodies are good and our crazy and unique personalities are good NO MATTER what bad things we might do. Welcome guilt into your life so you can see that you have done a bad/silly/lazy/stupid etc. thing but that in fact you yourself are not those things!
My husband was raised as most boys are; “toughen up, stop being a baby, stop crying, get big, be better…” These are the things we hear way too often towards our young boys and so it’s no wonder they are growing up to be fighters, aggressive, depressed, lost etc. My husband didn’t grow up to be aggressive but anxious, depressed, nervous, constantly feeling like he had to put on a front to look and be “cool” or “successful” or “worthy.” You see, we do it to our boys just the same. We tell them to push their feelings down and ignore them and all they do is fester and come out in other unhealthy and negative ways (ie. addiction, depression, physical illness, aggression etc). Lets allow our young boys to be soft, emotional, artistic, loving boys just as we would our girls!
Emotions are wonderful, they don’t need to be controlled, numbed or pushed down. They need to be understood and felt with self love and compassion. Teach your babies that and also stop shaming them for their emotions. It will help you heal all the shame you yourself grew up to believe as truth. Once you hold space for your own emotions and healing, your kids will see there is room for theirs as well and everyone gets to thrive together!
I'll be real and let you know that I also teach my babies how to hit the right way. How to stand tall, get big and use a deep and sturdy voice when they yell “STOP” when it’s needed. Also how to take someone down if they grab you from behind or by the neck and to look a person in the eye when you’re standing up for yourself, because I’m still that fighter but now I use my powers for good and so will they.