Parenting kids, Seriously, Parenting Questions, Concerns and Responses

Big Emotions With My 2 Year Old


Question:

I need some advice on how to teach a very emotional 2 year old about emotions, feelings, and calm mindfulness? I am in no way trying to stop her feelings or emotions. I just need help teaching what each emotion means and just helping her understand what feelings are. I could really use some resources or tools to help us!

The Judgemental Mom’s Response:

Start with helping identify her emotions. Talk to her about why she is feeling the way she is and what she “wishes”. Until she is older and commication is more established, I would say back to her what she says for both her sake and yours – to acknowledge you understand how she is feeling and why.

Try not to invalidate her feelings with statements like:
• “you’re okay”
• “it’s not that bad”
• “you just ate, you can’t be hungry”

These statements often don’t have the intention of disregarding their feelings, but this is how they are interpreted by our littles as they take things very literally.

You can respond instead by just acknowledging her feeling:
• “you’re still hungry after all that food”,
• “you sound really hurt”
• “You are frustrated because you still want to play”

You can help her connect with you in these moments and trust you by validating her feelings and letting her know that they have a big importance to her -regardless how miniscule the reason behind her feelings are to an adult.

Some connecting statements in example:
• It must be so FRUSTRATING when you want to finish your show but we have to get going
• I know it’s really DISAPPOINTING for you that you couldn’t have that toy from the store. I WISH that you can have that toy for your birthday!
• I bet when your brother took your book it made you so ANGRY. If someone just took something from me like I would be so mad!

The point in these examples is not encouraging the child’s tough emotions, but connecting WITH the child about their tough emotions.

At this age, your daughter may have a hard time understanding the different emotions. You could start simple, with 4 or 5 main emotions with a picture on the wall to help her find which one she identifies with (shown below).

Even letting them look in the mirror during their upset can be helpful so THEY can see how THEY look. Once you have talked about what happened, help her find how to do something differently or alternatively when possible.

To help her find her stopping point, consider these statements:
• How about you leave your game/show right here, so it will be waiting for you when we get back
• Let’s take a picture of that toy you really want so maybe I can get it for your birthday
• Your brother is still learning about waiting his turn for things. Let’s make sure your spot is saved in the book so when you get it back you can keep reading

Now is also a good age to start reading books about emotions together. Pick a calm time to learn about them though, as littles won’t absorb much in the heat of a feeling.

Some safe ways to express tough emotions:
• Stomping her feet
• Hitting the carpet
• Hitting a pillow
• If she wants to yell, show her how to yell what she’s feeling i.e., “I’m so ANGRY!!” and scream as hard as she can into a pillow.

You may find it beneficial to also begin teaching your daughter breathing exercises. A wonderful tool for guided breathing and meditation for both adults and kids is an app called Relax Melodies, found on the Play Store

Reccomended books about kids and their emotions for parents:

• The Whole Brain Child by Daniel Siegel
• How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

Reccomended books about emotions for preschoolers:

• The Feelings Book by Todo Parr
• Happy Hippo Angry Duck by Sandra Boyington
• Moody Monster Manor by Jenn Simon (Scholastic book)
• Baby Faces by Kate Merrit
• When Sophie Gets Angry – Really Really Angry by Molly Bang

For more helpful information regarding children’s big emotions, selecting your response with your children, and guiding them to talk about their struggles, visit https://thejudgementalmom.com/kids-seriously/5/

Parenting Yourself, Seriously

Forgetting Ourself


It’s hard, sometimes, to be a gentle parent. Especially when we didn’t grow up with gentle parents. Even then, parenting can be hard. Really hard; and all of us parents know that – just some of us have more emotional skills than others. That doesn’t make those parents better or worse than the others.

Sometimes when our children are not following our agenda, and on our time, they push back. As gentle parents, it’s our job to acknowledge why they’re pushing back, and validate their feelings. But things still can be frustrating for us. Especially if we ran out of time to take our time.

So in these moments it’s important to validate our own feelings.

We have to remember to be as gentle with ourselves as we are trying to be with our children.

Sometimes we need to tell ourself, “okay I’m feeling frustrated”, “I’m disappointed with myself because I didn’t plan enough time”, “I’m nervous I’m going to get in trouble for being late for work”, “I’m anxious that it makes me look bad when I have poor timing”, “i’m upset that things are not going smoothly”, etc.

Children learn gentleness best by their parents and others being gentle with them; but also by watching others be gentle with themselves. This is important, too, because we can’t always be there when our children are having a hard time. Sometimes they’re in school, daycare, at a friend’s, at their other parents place, grandparents place, etc. In these moments, they can begin to practice treating themselves how they have watched others treat themselves.

More so, we just need to cut ourself some slack. We set high enough standards for ourselves when trying to better our children and our future Generations.

Breath in, breathe out. We’re only human. It is okay if life feels a little heavy sometimes.


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Parenting kids, Seriously

Is your instinct to tell kids that they’re okay?


When kids are upset, is it your instinct to tell them that they’re okay?

Whether a child (or anyone really) is physically or emotionally hurt, it is really important for you to recognize how they feel and validate that. Help them label how they’re feeling so they can learn to acknowledge what emotions they are feeling. Acknowledge that it is tough. Walk them through how they’re feeling, what made them feel that way, what happened after, etc.; They need to know that it’s okay not to feel okay – no matter how minor it is. It is up to you as a parent to teach them that.

What happens when kids are told they are feeling something that they actually aren’t?

It hinders their reality of how they’re feeling – in that moment and during future moments to come. As they grow up, they begin to question how they’re feeling. They deny how they’re feeling and push themselves through emotions that sometimes they shouldn’t ignore.

What would you tell an adult who is clearly upset or burning out, but is powering through because they keep telling themselves that they are okay even though they are not?

When you tell kids that they’re okay when they’re not feeling okay, they grow up to tell themselves that they’re okay when they’re not actually – in much bigger situations than just spilling their milk. Emotions and feelings are there for a reason, your body is meant to acknowledge them. Our role as parents is to help them not feel so overwhelmed by emotions and/or at the least, accept them for what they are.
Maybe the next time your little one – or your kids of any age – are upset, try asking them, “Are you okay?” instead of telling them “You are okay.” Let them, tell you, how they feel. Help them recognize what they are feeling. If they’re not sure, help them out by asking them, “Did that scare you?”, “Did you get hurt?”, “Do you feel sad?”.

You can also find an emotions wheel chart for examples here.


Many times kids can also just get overwhelmed with whatever made them feel the way they did, plus the feeling that it caused. You can help them through storytelling. Going through everything that happened and then reminding them how it ended with love and support. I.e., “I know that was scary and you got hurt. When Mommy/Daddy saw/heard I picked you up and held you tight.”

For younger kids, CoComelon has a great clip on YouTube called “The Boo-Boo Song” which shows kids the start-to-finish of a situation in which someone gets hurts and their parents look after them.

So what are the more positive notes about accepting kids’ feelings?

  • They learn to trust their instincts, respecting their bodies natural responses wired intentionally to guide them.
  • They learn to respect their own boundaries, saying “no” when needed.
  • They learn to not bottle up their emotions.
  • They learn to reach out for support and help when needed.
  • They learn to communicate their feelings and needs.
  • They learn its okay not to always feel okay.

What can we say instead?

You might be wondering, well what am I supposed to say anymore if my child fell down, or got up hurt, or is upset? Just so you know, it’s not always easy to rewire or automatic responses. Especially when your intentions never were to dismiss their feelings. No one expects you to wake up the next day and just drop all your other habits that you learned from growing up. For starters, you have to be patient with yourself. If you find it difficult to remember that it’s time to focus on changing somw of your automatic responses, pick one and try to use it throughout the day in any scenario. If you catch yourself saying “it’s/you’re okay”, try to just follow up with the alternative language after. Here are some examples of phrases you can start with.

  • Uh oh
  • I know (in an understanding tone)
  • Did you get hurt?
  • Are you okay?
  • What happened?
  • Can you tell me about it?
  • That was scary
  • I see you’re upset/sad/really excited/angry/scared
  • It’s hard
  • I’m here
  • You fell down/hit your toe/bonked your head/etc.
  • You really want ______, but right now we are going to _______.

Interested in a little extra reading material?

A great, easy book to read and understand that I highly suggest to any parent is “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, & Listen So Kids Will Talk”. Information about this book can be found in my Goodreads widget at the very bottom of this page!

Voice boxing it

The Bittersweetness of Mother’s Day


You know, last mothers day was bitter sweet.

Why?

Because I had had over a year to feel out the motherhood thing. I now know how much love and space your own child takes up in your body, heart, and mind.

Because I had had a miserable time growing up and both my parents were to blame. I went through everything from abuse, neglect, addiction, poverty, bullying, and depression. And to be honest, being a parent has left me with the mind boggling question of how one can do that to their children.

Not to mention once I was able to move on from my crappy beginnings and eventually, ACTUALLY want children of my own, I was faced with pretty slim odds of being able to have one.

2.5 years of trying to conceive, hormone therapy, fertility doctors and 3 miscarriages – we were through the roof when this little embryo decided to snuggle in and put up camp for 9 months.

So, now that I’ve been a mom for a little over a two years now – I never knew that one day (besides the day of my son’s birth) could be so flipping emotional and slightly rollercoaster-y for me.

Mother’s Day for me symbolizes anger, sadness, confusion, happiness, thankfulness and pure joy – especially when getting to see the smile on my boys face.

I’m sure sometimes people may think I/we are just putting on a show, being a little over the top, being fake, or trying to be perfect…

But we aren’t.

I’m just so inlove with being a mom. I have nothing that bothers me about the struggles Jackson has had to face besides that he has had to face them. And I say Jackson, not me, because it wasn’t me having a hard time – it was Jackson.

Yeah I can be a pretty judgy mom. That’s because I can not for the life of me understand how one could consider their child to be too much, annoying, or too much work. How one could roll their eyes at their child. How one could complain about a child’s sleep habits when they’re under the age of ONE.
How one can complain that their baby needs them too much. How anyone could take all this for granted.

Just to it all, HOW.

How can any parent be and feel less than I do now.

(This is excluding PPD and deabilitating medical conditions)

Anyway. I was filled with pure joy and elation watching jackson have a blast last year. It was the best way we could have ever celebrated Mother’s Day.

Forget about all the other stuff for a couple hours and just live in the moment of our little’s giggles and smiles.

Parenting kids, Seriously, Voice boxing it

The Signs Your Child Is Feeling Out Of Touch With You


There are 4 main signs your child can be expressing when they are feeling out of touch, and 4 main signs that you may be doing as a prarent that can be contributing to the way your child feels – it can be any one of these signs for child and parent; it doesn’t need to be all the signs.

• They’re more irritable
• They’re more aggressive/rough
• They’re listening less than usual
• They’re more clingy or doing things to get your attention
• You’ve noticed you’ve had to tell them ‘not right now’ more frequently
• You’ve been more focused on your own checklist lately i.e., cleaning, organizing, phone calls
• You’ve been on your phone multiple times when they are trying to get your attention
• You have had less one on one time with your child lately

The signs expressed by kids of any age when they’re feeling out of touch also copy the signs of many other things that can being on; such as

• Growth spurts
• Sleeping regressions
• Lack of sleep
• Hungry
• Teething
• Illness/injury

It is important when kids are expressing any behaviour out of norm that you reflect on what’s been going on in their life AS WELL AS yours.

If kids are feeling as if their emotional and attachment needs are not being met, less fullfilled than usual, or that their weekly schedule is going off track – most do not understand how to verbalize this, or feel comfortable doing so.

So what can we as parents do? Even though we may feel like we aren’t doing anything different, your child feels differently. It is important not to decline their feelings or their reality, and to make them feel heard.

• Help them name their emotions they are feeling – so that both your child and you understand
• Try to make room in your day for more one on one time
• Challenge yourself to an hour without your phone – put it down and out of sight. Interact and play with your child, be more hands on, and share some cuddles
• Get your child more involved with YOUR world. Have them help you in the kitchen i.e., measuring, mixing, getting ingredients, setting the table. Have them help you clean and organize, or help outside with gardening or yard clean up. The goal isn’t to get them doing CHORES, but for you to do these things TOGETHER. If you have an older child whom isn’t interested in a chore-related activity – offer to do a trade: you do an activity of ‘your world’ together, and then you do an activity of ‘their world’ together

Parenting kids, Seriously, Parenting Yourself, Seriously, Voice boxing it

It’s Not Hard To Better Yourself; It’s Hard To Watch Others Not


One of the hardest parts I found of becoming a mother, was bettering myself. Not the act of bettering myself, but watching others who are parents, not.

Becoming a parent, it was easy for me to reflect on my childhood and to know that some things when I grew up were very wrong, and that I wanted to do a lot better for my child. I know many parents feel and think they are doing their best, but I also feel that there is an immense amount of support for struggling parents freaking out during hard times and not enough support for the children also going through the hard times.

As a society, we continue to see more and more emerging education in cases of mental health struggles. Three-quarters of the population struggle with their mental health at one time or another. I truly believe it has to do with the way previous generations raised their children, and the emotional neglect begins to surface when those children have grown and became self-sufficient adults.

I am so thankful that the world is growing in terms of mental health education and help, otherwise I would be one of the many people struggling to get by everyday. But I see so many other parents that don’t reflect on their struggles as a child, and learn from them to better parent their own children, and honestly, that leaves me fairly judgemental. There’s so much ignorance.

The problem is that if we don’t face our childhood, we risk repeating the same mistakes generations before us made when parenting – the number one mistake being emotional neglect.

You see Facebook posts, Instagram posts, memes and jokes about “Mommy needs a glass of wine”, “my kid won’t leave me alone”, complaining about how difficult their children are being, or how annoying their kids can be. In parenting groups, parents post about stressful and nerve breaking moments with their children. How the mom or dad snapped, how they slipped up and hit their child out of frustration, and all the feedback is always in support of the parent. Always reminding them that they are human and make mistakes and that it’s okay that kids are resilient. There is never any guidance how to move forward in a positive way and explain what happened to the child, that it wasn’t okay for mom or dad to act that way, that they are sorry. I do agree that we need to recognize parents emotions and validate them, because I do agree that parenting can be really frustrating at times and definitely push you to the edge. That is not an excuse, however, for poor behavior nor should it condone it in hard times.

The fact that your child just acted like a complete and utter asshole to you is not a get-out-of-jail card to be a complete and utter asshole back.

They are a child, their brain is still developing, and regardless of how mature they may seem, they still need guidance and education about their bodies, feelings and emotions. Just because the way they feel about a situation doesn’t chock up to the way in adult would feel about it does not mean their feelings should be invalidated or belittled. Their world is much different than ours – as is their perception of it and parents need to stop expecting a child to perceive the world through an adults perception.

Another thing I see frequently, are children’s emotions being completely ignored; their bids for attention being completely ignored. Parents sometimes act like children are a burden to them. As if acting like that has no effect on the child whatsoever, or like it could make them stronger in some way, or more independent.

As frustrating as it is for me to see this, and not bark my opinion at them, what I actually see is a broken adult in denial of their own childhood. What also continues to frustrate me, is no matter how many resources are out there, no matter how many mutual friends post information for these parents to learn from, no matter how many times an article is shared that shows up on one of these parents news feeds – they won’t see it, read it, or take it seriously unless they know and are ready to change. So in reality, more than likely, most of the educational information, articles, videos, Etc., that I am dying for certain parents or family members or friends to see and learn from, won’t.

Voice boxing it

The Emotional Wheel Chart For Adults And Kids


Emotions are diverse. Not only can we feel more than one thing at a time, emotions are not black and white. Sometime we struggle naming what we feel, because it’s more than just the primary emotions of “happy”, “sad”, “angry”, “tired”.

When trying to identify and name your emotions to help understand and tame them, here is a emotional wheel chart I found online that you could use to make things a little less complicated.

Voice boxing it

Duplicating Your Emotions


We often unintentionally duplicate our emotions, unnecessarily making them overall harder on us.


For example, you’ve been going through a hard time, and then one day it gets a little easier and you feel content. But you don’t just feel content, you almost feel airy; almost like you’re excited. You don’t know why, but you do know that you feel content for once finally.

What you don’t know, and what takes a lot of time and practiced to realize, is that you also feel happy that you feel content. It’s not necessarily a bad thing – except that it stops you from living in the moment and feeling content. You end up focusing on the fact that you’re happy that you’re content, not that you’re content. Confusing I know, but follow me?

Likewise, the same thing happens when we experience negative emotions. Having a bad day, quite often we don’t just have a bad day. Often having a bad day results with us feeling frustrated. Which is normal.
But then we end up duplicating and intensifying this emotion by feeling frustrated that we feel frustrated.

Although it doesn’t apply to everyone, as some people have a much more balanced sense of emotions and self understanding, some of us find themselves struggling with emotions much more.

I encourage everyone to seek out counselling and therapy and self-help when they find themselves having a hard time. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with you, just that an alternative perspective is often very helpful when we become stuck in our mind and stuck in our ways.

Understanding cognitive behavioral therapy is a major component of self understanding and emotional regulation. Sometimes those who struggle with emotional regulation end up finding themselves on a rollercoaster of moods and sensations.

What I came to realize overtime and over many years of struggling with my mental health and emotional regulation, is that I find myself on a roller coaster quite often.

I believe everyone knows the saying, “I’m so sick and tired of feeling so sick and tired.” Again, it’s a totally reasonable feeling and thought.

The point of this right now is just to help you and everyone else reading this understand part of what’s going on inside your brain. There’s many components to learn and realize, this is just a slice of them.

An example of a roller coaster day for me, would be: Emotion one, feeling frustrated from an argument or situation that didn’t go over smoothly. Emotion two, I realize that this is not what I was hoping my day would be or how I was feeling, so I become more frustrated. Emotion three, In my frustration I begin to think of the negative aspects that happened in the situation, and naturally in consequence I think about other related negative aspects and start feeling depressed. I end up focusing on the re-occurrence in life of negative feelings feel depressed that I feel frustrated so often and about being frustrated from the situation.

I’m stuck in a paradox.

I later go home after work and things go well and we have fun and we laugh and our son goes to bed in a good mood, so the next day I feel content. I end up feeling happy that I feel content. And then I feel relieved that I’m feeling happy because I feel content.

And although positive feelings are often seen as, well, good things; there is such thing as too much of a good thing. The higher you feel – the farther you have to fall when you experience something of the opposite of emotion.

This is where balancing the brain left and right, upstairs and downstairs, understanding your amygdala, and the thoughts-feelings-actions triangle come into play. To understand that part, click here and check out my page explaining this.

What I’d like you to realize, takes time and self-reflection. Quite often we experience reactions to events considered that are like a knee-jerk reaction or an automatic thought.

We miss the few seconds between thought and emotion and are able to turn that thought around and influence a different emotion. Sometimes that’s not always possible, but we miss the moment of realization of the emotion blooming.

When we begin to express a thought that turns itself into an emotion, there is a sensation felt inside the body. Whether it be a tightness in your head, tightness in your chest, punching of the hand, an automatic response sensation so to speak.

It takes one recognizing that automatic response to interrupt the thought that wants to come with it.

So what I want you to try the next day following, is self-awareness. If you find yourself responding before you feel you should have this is for you. If you find yourself in arguments often, or internal tribulations, this is for you. Right before you say something or you think something – there’s a sensation felt inside the body, triggered by the perception in the brain. Try to change that trigger instead of making a thought, and inturn another action. Take a deep breath and hold it. Try to name whatever feeling that is inside your body before your thought is created.

Did you feel your head go tight? Was there a pressure in your chest? Or is there a surge of energy through your arm that made you want to clench your fist? Did you have a surge of sensation through your chest that made you want to quickly deeply inhale, say with excitement?

What this does is help bring the logical side of the brain back to the emotional side. Quite often we become infatuated with the effect emotion brings us. And it overwhelms our senses and focus.

**This does not indicate mental health issues or mental conditions, or medication side effects.
This is not meant to override any suggestions, instructions or medication given by that of a specialist. Please seek advise of a specialist if you feel you need to do so.**

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Understanding Adult And Child Episodes Of Flipping Out


In my last section on parenting kids, seriously, I explained the left and right brain. Now I will explain the upstairs and downstairs brain.

The downstairs brain controls: emotions, bodily sensations and actions i.e., anger, breathing, blinking, fear, fight or flight

The upstairs brain controls: thinking, planning, imagining, processing, self understanding, control over your body, morals

The brain works best when it is balanced – or ‘integrated’. To vertically integrate the two, we want to work from bottom to top. We want to be able to take the natural, nature instincts from the bottom, and evaluate and control them with the upstairs brain; To think about our emotions and physical feelings from the downstairs and make the right decisions with the upstairs.

With in mind, there are two type of tantrums: upstairs brain tantrums and down stairs brain tantrums. But remember, its not just kids who have tantrums – adults flip their lid too.

Learn more about how these two types of episodes vary inside your brain, and how best to handle them, on my page!

When we handle our own and our kid’s emotions, feelings and actions correctly, we help curb future meantal health struggles and increase emotional intelligence.

https://thejudgementalmom.com/kids-seriously/3/