Mummy, why are you crying? Are you fine? This is what your 3-year-old son asked you the other day when he saw you wiping the tears away from your cheeks.
You were having an intense discussion with your husband and tears roll down your cheeks. And your mind wonders how much emotions should you let your children see. Or should they see you and your husband argue? Or even crying behind closed doors and make up a story about what is happening.
To be honest, it is fine to let your children see all sides of you but in an age and emotionally appropriate way. You want them to know that while you are smiling happily and positively, there are times when you will be sad, anxious and frustrated. You will want them to feel these difficult emotions too so that they know they are allowed to cry if they need to and there’s no reason to be ashamed.
So what are the few things you want them to understand?
No bad feeling, but bad behaviour
You know growing up, there will be ups and downs as you’ve been through there. You want your child to know that there are no bad feelings but only bad behaviour. For instance, it is fine for them to feel upset when they are not invited to a birthday party but it is not fine to yell at their friend or throwing tantrum. It is perfectly fine to feel disappointed when their sibling does not want to share the new toy but it is not okay to hit their sister or brother.
You want your child to know that it can be disappointing as we go through each phase of life. For instance, it can be disappointing to get bad grades or not performing well during an audition, but you wouldn’t want emotions to take over the desire to learn or practice more. You want them to understand that it is fine to take a risk even if they are going to fail, but what matter is the process.
Give permission to feel
You want them to know that someday you will leave them or their loved ones will pass away, leaving them. And these things can be incredibly painful to feel but you want them to be able to give themselves the permission to feel. To deal with these difficult emotions while letting them know you are always there, ready to love and comfort them.
While you are allowing these emotions to flow in them, do remember you are not suggesting that they wallow in pain without getting help. And they should be reminded that they should not stop living their lives. Instead, guide them in developing the emotional capacity to experience what shows up with compassion. While you are showing them these much emotions, help them to embrace them and recognize that they need them to thrive. You would want your child to focus on resilience and be able to stand up after the fall. Being fine with tears means to see them, feel them but most importantly, to pick up where they left off.
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