Last week we explored emotional intelligence, how it leads to emotional maturity, and its importance in parenting.
This week let’s deepen in our exploration together…
Parenting is a skill-based job on the practical level. We actually have to change the diapers, feed the food, drive them here or there, and we also show our children certain skill sets that will help them along.
For example, to be a licensed driver it is not enough to just think about driving on the road or just watch other folks doing it. Actually, getting behind the wheel and practicing is a skill set. Learning the rules of the road, the mechanics of driving the car, and actually getting out on the road are required.
And yet, on an emotional level, if we use the same analogy, we can ask- what about our emotional car?
It makes sense that we need emotional skills also and yet where do we learn these?
As children, we learn the skill set of our family.
If your family’s emotional driving was constantly careening out of control, then don’t expect yourself to miraculously have an emotionally mature skill set.
Most parents taught us the emotional skill set of blaming and controlling the external -the other cars on the road, so to speak- rather than working with the emotional intensity internally.
Children live primarily in their emotional brain rather than their rational minds. Understanding that the external is not the cause of their distress requires maturity. Frequently a child will get overwhelmed by their emotional activations and naturally offload those uncomfortable feelings into the external world- siblings, pets, parents, even inanimate objects.
I remember when my daughter was little – she would run into the table and then blame the table for hurting her- “BAD table!!” It was too intense to realize that those feelings and sensations were all happening inside her being.
Emotional regulation is a mature capacity that young children grow into. If you were not supported to grow up emotionally- realizing that your feelings lived inside you, that the sensations in your body were information, you likely organized to focus on the external. Now in parenting, when your child has big feelings that drive them to “act out”, it triggers your internal young emotional experience.
As an external force you may feel like they are manipulating or disrespecting you, then what do you do?
If you’ve not had the chance to grow up into emotional maturity, and you want to blame the external, you’ll likely move to control your child!
When that happens both you and your child end up in a pretty young emotional spot.
Purejoy supports discovering how to emotionally regulate, making ourselves a safe emotional space for our children. We practice our own emotional driving skills, rather than focusing on the child changing their behavior so that we can feel ok inside.
The first step towards emotional maturity is to recognize that when your child experiences a big emotional wave, you will naturally attune to that wave.
Working this vibrational attunement in the SafeSeat, noticing your experience, and offering loving-kindness to yourself supports emotional growth and safety.
Continuing to practice new emotional regulation skills, supports you and your family in learning how to drive the emotional car. You support yourself, not blaming your children for your feelings, or getting them to take care of you. And voila! You stay in your own lane teaching your child to do the same.