Handling Emotions

You interact with your child in many ways and at many times. It is important you choose an interaction style that facilitates and improves your child’s ability to make and maintain relationships in a way that supports trust and mutual understanding. To be successful in laying this foundation parents must teach children how to value their emotions and you must show your child how you value your own emotions.

Attunement is the name given to the ability to respond to the communication and needs of another. It includes the ability to recognize and respond to cues and by being aware of the needs of others you provide a foundation of trust and security for your child. This response is intertwined with consistent, confident, competent and committed care.

Attunement must be done in a sensitive way with an understanding of one’s own emotions. Understanding how you think about feelings and emotions is very important and is usually the result of the way you were raised. Ask yourself how you feel when you are told you are not going to get a raise you expected. Your reaction to the frustration, anger and disappointment you feel from not getting the raise may include a sense of guilt that you did not work hard enough or that you are not smart enough to deserve a raise. These feelings are often irrational and not justified but they are part of your response pattern in ways more fundamental then the expected frustration, anger and disappointment.

Teaching children how to recognize and handle their emotional response to emotions is the best way to teach them how to handle their own emotions in rational and conscious ways rather than being led by unconscious feelings and experiences that often are based on unhealthy patterns. The first step in this process is to teach and show children there are no bad emotions, only badly handled ones. Children must realize there is a difference between an emotion and how a person responds to the emotion.

By modeling appropriate responses to emotions you are in the perfect position to show your child that feelings are normal and often cannot be controlled but they can be managed and acceptable responses can be learned.