Category Archives: Parenthood

Talking to Our Kids About Feelings

Feelings. Is it important to talk to our kids about how to deal with their feelings? Many see it as an innate skill. It’s not something most parents think about. We are too busy making sure they brush their teeth properly and get to bed at a decent hour and get their homework done every night.

Why is it so important to discuss dealing with feelings with our kids?
The truth is we don’t even think about how we deal with our own feelings. We just do it and assume our kids will know how to do it naturally. But that isn’t always the case. This may be why we see so many of the future generations acting out their feelings by bullying and drama… because they don’t know how else to deal with them.

The Simple Truth:
#1: All of us are always having feelings.
#2: If we don’t deal with our feelings, we are doomed to repeatedly feel them until we consciously resolve them.

Good Feelings

Good feelings are easy to “resolve” so-to-speak because we naturally and fully want to accept them and experience them to our brain’s satisfactory completion.

During “good” experiences, our minds naturally say: “Yes, it happened. Yes, I am happy it. So I accept it and can move on.”

Bad Feelings

It’s the “bad” feelings we suppress and when we do this, our minds deny our brain the necessary resolution of the experience.

During a “bad” experience, our minds often try to process the information differently. “I don’t want to feel (insert feeling: scared, sad, bad) so I am going to pretend this isn’t/didn’t/or can never happen.” Avoidance of the feelings verses allowance and acceptance of the feelings your brain is trying to associate with the bad experience resolves nothing.

Suppressed feelings keep coming back to haunt you until you allow yourself to feel them.
Do you ever notice how a bad memory (perhaps of something that 1embarrassed you or 2scared you or even 3made you feel very angry because an injustice was done to someone you care very much about) can sometimes pop up in your mind at an odd or inconvenient time?
Emotion
You simply cringe and tell yourself: “Don’t think about it.” or even catch yourself saying something out loud like “I can’t believe you said that!” or “No!” – Chances are if you do this, someone is going to come into the room and say “Who are you talking to?” ;) It happens to everyone.

These are memories that have unresolved feelings associated with them that have not been dealt with. They have been suppressed because for some reason or another many of us have taught ourselves that it is better to “brush it off” and pretend it never happened.

But it did happen and when those memories come back to us, it is like our subconscious mind is bringing it back to our attention to remind us we need to deal with the feelings that happened during that experience.

In the book: “Organizing for Life” and it is very interesting that the author states that depression is your mind or body’s attempt not to feel. This is why suppressing your feelings is very bad for you, you can end up training your brain to stop feeling the way it needs to.

What We’ve Been Teaching Our Kids Might Not Be Working!

I have a 12 year old and I didn’t realize that many many kids (and even at very young ages) are taught by society (including us parents) and self to keep many of their feelings in check and conceal them as best as possible. People who do this well are even revered and thought of a “cool” and strong in our society. So we do know that to thrive in our world, we do need to do this sort of stifling and controlling emotions in the moment of the experience up to a point.

We say things like: “brush it off” and “shake it off” and even “let it go” has come to mean the same thing. It has become another way of saying “Don’t think about it. / Don’t deal with it.”

How to Teach Someone How to Deal with Emotions / Feelings

This is more difficult than you might think. First, we must know and deal with our own feelings well.

We must somehow teach our children that yes, controlling your emotions and “keeping your dignity” is very important. Learning to press on in the face of adversity is sometimes very courageous and can take them very far. We must also teach them to learn to deal with their feelings in the right time too.

To Deal: Feel, then Heal

Allow yourself to feel the disappointment, embarrassment, fear, sadness, and even anger when the time is right and your mind will probably not let you forget to do so. The very next time you are doing your homework (or are in the middle of doing whatever it is you might be doing) and a not-so-great memory pops back up in your mind. You must take a moment and allow yourself to feel the feelings that were suppressed during the experience. It’s not like you need hours to let yourself fully feel an emotion. It only takes a minute or two for the most part.

What Self Talk Might Look Like When Dealing With Your Feelings

Ok, so you’ve decided or been mentally reminded that now is a good time to allow yourself to really feel the feeling. It can go something like this:

“Ok, yes, that happened.” Feel it. “Yes, that kinda sucked.” Or “Yeah, that kinda stunk.” (If you are a parent who doesn’t like that word. Make sure you feel it completely like your brain needs for you to.

And then you can “let it go” and get your mind back on task.

Keep your discussion with your kids short.
Remember that kids have short attention spans. When discussing major, important issues like this: do your very best not to ramble or digress!

This is not a cure all for dealing with tragedy and may not help everyone all the time. But from one parent to another, I wanted to go ahead and write this all out in case you might have been teaching your kids to “sweep it all under the rug”. Remember, there is only so much room under the rug. We have to deep clean sometimes.

I wouldn’t even have thought it to be an important topic until I talked to my daughter about how she deals with middle school stress and all that wonderfullness. :)

We need to remember (even for ourselves) that bad feelings aren’t ever really bad, they are a part of a well rounded life and if we never had bad feelings then we’d never have good feelings either. There would be no distinction. It’s like if we never had Winter, would Summer all the time really be that great? We would have no idea.

Running Out of Bedtime Stories?

If you haven’t ever read the poem “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod” by Eugene Field to your kids, you should definitely check it out. Haylee had it in one of her poetry treasure books and I was so pleased to find it because I hadn’t heard it is such a long time. I hadn’t heard it in years. It’s not long, but not too short either. Perfect for a little wind down story. – just thought I’d share. ;)

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

by Eugene Field

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe,—
Sailed on a river of crystal light
Into a sea of dew.

“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
The old moon asked the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring-fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!”

Said Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe;
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew;

The little stars were the herring-fish
That lived in the beautiful sea.
“Now cast your nets wherever you wish,—
Never afraid are we;”
So cried the stars to the fishermen three:

Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam—
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home;

‘Twas all so pretty a sail it seemed
As if it could not be;
And some folks thought ’twas a dream they’d dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea-
But I shall name you the fishermen three:

Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one’s trundle-bed;

So shut your eyes while Mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:

Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

Audiobooks

Fall in love with books again…

My mind is constantly going and my predisposition to continually seek a challenge is also the bane of my existence when it’s time for spring cleaning.

Ugh… cleaning.

Last week I really started to do some deep cleaning, go through clothes that don’t fit the kids any more, throw out socks that lost their match months ago, and started deciding which things we sell or donate to someone who will be able to use them. The trouble for me is that as I’m cleaning my mind wanders and the next thing I know:

  • I’m planning out my week of work
  • my weekend of busyness
  • reminding myself to even dust the ceiling fans before I vacuum
  • I start thinking about what sounds good for dinner (preferably that’s easy to make and clean up)
  • and I can also pretty much guarantee that my train of thought will be halted at least 4 to 8 times per hour sudden interruptions like – “So can I mom? mom? mom?” or “Mom would not like it if she saw you doing that!”

I don’t know about you but after a few of hours of this and I’m tired, bored, or at least fighting off a headache from so much input that I’m getting from myself and my environment.

But this time is different, because I’ve already gotten a lot of it done!

Last week a friend of mine was talking about one of the books she is reading, but she said she is reading it via audiobook.

Brilliant! I thought to myself. I’d wanted to read one of those books too so I got the fourth twilight book “Breaking Dawn” on audiobook and I tell you what, it’s been entertaining me while I’m doing my early spring cleaning.

What a perfect way to keep my mind from trying to solve all of the problems in the world when cleaning for longer periods of time or even just having my hands free to take out the trash and my hands and eyes free to match the ungodly number of socks in the dreaded “sock basket”

I don’t know why, but before that moment I’d always thought of audiobooks as an aid to learn a foreign language or listen to a lecture – something probably boring. Never had I considered it’s entertainment value.

And best of all…are you ready for it? My ears are plugged so the kids actually have to get my attention before they ask or tell anything. :) It’s a win win for me.

Save Money on Your Audiobooks

I went ahead and posted the amazon link here to the book I “read”, but they can get expensive. If you won’t read it over and over, you can borrow some of these types of audiobooks at the library.

I got mine with 2 free credits @ audible.com which is kind of expensive if you ask me because you don’t actually get disks or anything just the audio files. They have a huge collection of them available though.

The Dark Side of Social Media

Look at these faces. Aren’t they beautiful? You can’t help but wonder, “What could a young, attractive teen like you have to be sad about?” The following photos are those of real teens who committed suicide after struggling with a vicious epidemic called cyber-bullying.


Ryan Halligan, age 13
Died: October 7, 2003
humiliated and back-stabbed via AOL instant messenger

Megan Meier, age 13
Died: October 17, 2006
betrayed & verbally abused by a friend’s parent who got on MySpace pretending to be a 16 year old boy?!

Phoebe Prince, age 15
Died: January 14, 2010
harassed via text messaging and Facebook

Alexis Pilkington age 17
Died: March 25, 2010
cyber-bullied on Facebook and formspring.me
 
If social media is so powerful that it is affecting our youth on such a deep level, then we must see to it that these powers start getting used for good.

This is sadly becoming a common issue. It could easily become even more common if children are left wading through the masses of social networking sites without a firm grasp on reality and heavy dose of self-assurance. Adolescent socializing is hard enough without adding the global factor of public confrontations. Education and the freedom to be open with a parent or other grown up support system when they are unsure of how to handle certain situations alone will save kids like Ryan, Megan, Phoebe, and Alexis.

Restriction is not the answer.

Many parents and teachers are concerned about sites like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter providing too much information to and by our youth. Some believe that denying children (including teens) access to social networking sites will protect them from harm. It’s time to get real. Kids will find ways to set up online profiles at their friends’ houses, at school, or even at the local libraries. Electronic harassment is also happening via text messaging, instant messaging, and email.

Re-purposing social networking is the only answer.

Not only is it possible to used to emotionally hurt people, but I believe that it could really save people too. Social networking services that allow continual access to new resources for education and other public services. Students could talk to tutors on MySpace when they are having trouble with a certain homework problem. Alcoholics could get on Facebook and talk to AA leaders and members, even on Friday nights when their buddies are texting them to come out to the bars. Could Twitter become a useful part of the emergency broadcast system by tweeting weather warnings and Amber alerts to everyone’s cell phone within a targeted demographic area?

Ignoring it won’t make it go away.

Social media is swiftly bringing our world into a new age whether we are ready to see the change or not. Before, it was all about information, now it is all about sharing information. Social media could be the answer to some of society’s problems or it could make them much worse. If we decide to look the other way and tell ourselves that it won’t happen to our family, then the problem will get worse. We don’t have to sit by miss this opportunity for growth. We just need to learn how to use it appropriately, then we must teach our children.

No death should be in vain.

Dedicated to: Rachel Burdine, my best friend in middle school committed suicide at age 13. You could have really done so many great things. I still miss you.

Learn more.

Suicide Prevention

Parent Resources