We all experience emotions throughout the day. Some of them are positive, and some of them are not. Unfortunately, emotions like anger, sadness, or worry can quickly snowball into intense feelings, and when this happens, we typically don’t express our feelings in the healthiest possible way.
While there’s nothing wrong with feeling angry or upset because of something your child did or something that happened at work, letting those emotions out full force can be a problem. Instead, it’s better to regulate our emotions, especially for the sake of our child’s development. When we regulate our feelings, it helps our kids do the same.
Kids Are Sensitive To Our Emotions
Although we may not always realize it, children are very sensitive to the emotions of surrounding adults. In fact, The American Institute of Stress says children are especially sensitive to emotions like stress, anger, or sadness. Whether you actually say or express how you feel or not, children still pick up on aspects of your mood from your body language, voice tone, and other nonverbal cues. Unfortunately, these feelings can quickly rub off on kids and even push them to misbehave.
According to an article published by Ohio’s state Bold Beginnings program, children’s mood and behavior is often directly influenced by the emotions they sense from adults. For this reason, adults should be cautious about how they present themselves in front of their children, especially in situations where the child is already emotionally dysregulated. By regulating their own emotions, parents can help children deescalate their feelings, so everyone can communicate more effectively.
Children Learn From What They Observe
While it’s clear children are impacted by what their parents feel, this isn’t the only issue caused by intense emotions. In fact, children are also largely influenced by what they observe, and they often repeat these observations when similar situations arise in the future. This means if you yell at your child for something, they will likely yell at others in future situations. Or, if you seem worried about money constantly, your kids will notice that and start worrying about it as well.
For this reason, Scott Bezsylko, the executive director of the Winston Prep Schools, told the Child Mind Institute that children who see parents reflect and regulate are more likely to do the same themselves. This, Bezsylko says, can ultimately help children make smarter choices in emotional situations as they grow up. Kids need to see you demonstrate empathy, compassion, and calm responses to situations where they feel scared, angry, or upset because it teaches them that they can respond the same way in the future.
Furthermore, children can learn self-regulation skills from observing parents use them at the moment during emotional situations. This is why mindfulness practice and other similar skills are so important for parents to foster at home — everyone benefits from this form of self-regulation.
Although it’s sometimes hard to keep your own emotions in check in certain situations, it can be helpful both in the short-term and long-term. By regulating your emotions, you can help your child remain calm and learn how to handle situations with maturity and poise.