By Lorian Phillips
Many of us grew up in an age where our parents emphasized being polite, putting others’ feelings first, and being obedient without questioning. While this is important for a civilized society to function, it also has many drawbacks. Kids brought up in this way may lack skills in conflict management and not trust their feelings as valid. For boys this often comes out in not allowing themselves to cry or be vulnerable as it is seen as a weakness (‘cowboys don’t cry’). Today we live in a very different age and we focus on listening to children’s views and giving them a lot of airtime. However, many kids still don’t know how to manage their feelings and deal adequately with different interpersonal relationships. It is therefore so important in our role as mothers to guide them. For instance, when your child is expressing something, try to name the feeling and provide options on what courses of action s/he can choose based on his/her feelings. For example: Your child is jumping up and down in a temper because he could not complete a task. Mom can say: ‘You’re feeling very frustrated right now. How about taking a few deep breaths, or punching a pillow to let it go, or taking a break before trying again?’ (Specify options according to the child’s personality.) As children grow older you can ask them for ideas in how to cope with their feelings. This is a vital ingredient in helping children to effectively manage feelings and deal with others. Now our challenge as Moms is to first learn these skills ourselves! Lorian Phillips is a clinical psychologist in private practice.