Help your children experience the power of being with their big emotions, and not running away from them, by doing and modeling that yourself.
They’ve found with fMRI studies that when we think about running away from an idea or feeling, it activates the survival mode parts of our brain. It’s telling our survival mode that the thought or feeling we’re running away from really is danger, which in turn, strengthens the danger associated with that feeling. In contrast, when we pause and turn towards it to say, “Oh I see you. I see you fear.” it engages the parts of the brain that think, without fear, and that create a sense of safety. Turning towards our feelings, we give and receive our own message that “I’m here for you and we can figure this out together.”
Model going from your initial reaction to the turning towards your feelings in front of your children. Let’s do it for ourselves, turning towards our emotions and including noticing and naming that initial bodily response that comes with the fear, anxiety, or whatever it may be. And let’s let our children witness going through and narrating that experience. Let them see us struggle. Otherwise they may think “Well it’s easy for mom and dad, but they don’t get how hard it is for me.” Feeling that disconnect, they’re not going to be open to learn from us. When we do meet them in a shared experience, it helps them see that we have things that we struggle with too (start small and doable!). Letting them witness how we experience and take ourselves through it, we are giving them some of the best gifts of all for thriving through the emotions of living.