How Upping Your Emotional Literacy Game can Positively Transform Your Parenting Journey

by | September 20, 2019 | 0 comments

How Upping Your Emotional Literacy Game can Positively Transform Your Parenting Journey

by | September 20, 2019 | 0 comments

As a positive parenting educator, I help families redirect & discipline their kids with integrity, by understanding the root of misbehavior.

I teach parents how to categorize misbehavior into 4 different areas (attention, power, revenge & inadequacy), so they can then appropriately choose which tools to teach with.

Sounds simple right?

But here’s the catch. The way in which they correctly categorize misbehavior is based on how they FEEL when a stimulus (misbehavior) happens.

Trippy right?

Categorizing our kids misbehavior based on how WE feel?

Yes, trust me it works, but only if you’re able to accurately & fully feel your emotions FIRST … which so many parents simply just don’t have much experience with.

I can honestly say that before kids, I didn’t really give my emotions much thought …

… but once I was brought to my knees with a parenting season that kicked my butt, big time (mothering my very spirited little girl when she was little almost stole my sanity) … I was luckily introduced to a new way.

My beautiful strong & spirited daughter Stella at age 3.

Yes, the 5 basic emotions (that I now teach families extensively about) were part of life, but growing up as a kid in the 80’s, I never felt the need to do much with them.

  • Happy? Yes, that was always the goal. Everyone knows happy is the good one right? (wrong!)
  • Sad? When someone would pass away or a tragedy in the world would happen, I felt it, but I always tried “not to cry“. Being sad was something I tried to avoid because it was just weird & one of those “uncomfortable emotions”. Being strong always felt safer than being sad.
  • Scared? Nah, not me, I was a tough girl, who grew up in the country riding in the back of pick-up trucks, with a brother who sat on my head & “playfully” pounded on me to give him the remote & modeled toughness to an extreme. I pretty much never ever said “I’m scared”. Feeling scared felt weak and in my family, no one ever exposed weakness.
  • Hurt? This feeling was definitely never welcome. If my feelings got hurt by someone, I’d act like I didn’t care or just “move on” saying “I’m fine” (when really my heart was in pieces). Comebacks always felt like the way to get through this emotion, words like “whatever” or “what you say doesn’t even matter to me”, or “you’re an idiot” were easy to react with.
  • Angry? Oh yes, this one I saw & felt a lot growing up, with family members who yelled consistently. Arguments in our home would escalate quickly & move through like a tornado of chaos. Anger would come on fast like a volcano, then pass & no one would ever talk about what had happened. Once I became a teenager, I followed the same formula: get pissed, fight, move on with zero ability to make amends. Anger was common & accepted in my family but not felt, just spewed like a wildfire that sucked the oxygen (joy) out of our home & left damage (broken relationships) in it’s path.

Sound familiar?

Were you taught HOW to feel & what to do with those 5 basic emotions (that we all feel every day if we are alive) growing up?

Most parents I work with say “No”.

Instead, most of our childhoods were filled with common sayings like:

You’re ok, get up” (you’re not hurt)

“It’s ok, don’t be scared

“You Do NOT raise your voice at me” (don’t be mad)

And the most common one … “Oh come on, everything’s fine don’t cry” (don’t be sad)

But the problem is … often … everything was NOT fine!

Being able to FEEL all those feelings accurately & fully is an essential part of life because ALL emotions make up the wholeness of life. Plus, each one plays an integral role in how we behave. Sadness, hurt, fear & anger are JUST as much a part of normal, everyday living …. as happy.

In order to be the responsive, intentional, kind (and firm) leader we all want to be in our homes, it’s essential that we start with upping our own emotional intelligence game.

When we try to avoid emotions, run from them, or deny them, trouble brews, big time.

No matter how many people tell you “parenthood is tough”, most of us never really understand JUST HOW TOUGH it is till the reality hits.

For me, that dose of reality came when I left my full time job in the corporate world to stay at home with my babes. The combo of raising a strong willed toddler & trying to meet everyone’s needs (including my colicky newborn baby boy) without freaking out turned out to be “not so easy for me”.

Intense feelings about the experiences I was encountering were all around me, but I had no idea what to do with them.

Thank God I stumbled upon the incredible combo of positive parenting curriculum & life-coaching personal development work that taught me all about emotions & CHANGED MY LIFE COMPLETELY.

I went from this kind of mom:

  • Stressed out, control lover
  • Freaking out often (yelling, slamming doors, snapping)
  • Worried about my kid & the future (always thinking they & we needed to be better & do better).
  • Guilty about not liking my spirited child (I used to beg my husband “please don’t go to work, I can’t do this alone”)
  • Shameful about hating parenting (& not being grateful for the beautiful SAHM life I’d been blessed to be able to live)
  • Full of blame that my problems were because of my crazy daughter & heavy load
  • Embarrassed about who I had become (behind closed doors)

…. to this kind of mom (nearly a decade later):

  • Calm & collected (even amidst storms)
  • Responsive vs. reactive (my muscles grew slowly but surely over time in this area)
  • Confident about the future of our family & my kids (developing deep faith in who my kids were and who they were becoming)
  • Inspired by my daughter’s personality, incredible strength & ability to lead
  • Grateful for the parenting journey I have walked through & the challenges I’ve endured & overcome with integrity
  • Responsible & aware of my actions and inspired to BE the change I want to see in my kids & family
  • Filled with grace that it’s ok that my kids, nor I am perfect
  • Capable of learning from my mistakes (and the messy moments) & able to teach my kids to do the same
  • Thriving in healthy relationships with my children filled with connection, mutual respect & strength to endure challenges with ease.

By no means to I pretend to have it all together, because trust me, I have my moments … but I know that all parents would rather live in the 2nd camp, vs. the first.

I know that because I’ve lived through both, and the first camp was super lame and stole precious time away from enjoying this beautiful life with my babies when they were young.

If that first camp sounds familiar to you, I want to help you get out of it immediately because you don’t need to stay there any longer.

Enter in my passion to teach other parents HOW to feel. Learning to honor, accept & move through emotions sets parents up for success

>>> no matter what kind of kiddo they are blessed with

>>> no matter what kind of behavioral challenges get thrown their way

>>> no matter what happens in life

… acting with true integrity is easier when you know how to FEEL first.

FEELING is important and is an essential life skill that has traditionally not been taught to children, but as I talk about in this article I wrote for Macaroni Child, times are changing.

As Maya Angelo says “When you know better, you do better” and knowing what we do now, families like yours & mine are choosing to teach emotional literacy skills, but it starts with us first.

Developing Emotional Literacy includes learning:

  • how to feel emotions
  • how to acknowledge feelings
  • how to communicate feelings (when needed)
  • how to fully experience feelings without extreme uncomfortableness
  • how to let emotions come & go without always acting on them

Motivation to increase our Emotional Literacy starts with knowledge that the way we act, is often driven by how we feel.

How we feel, is often driven by our needs.

When our needs are unmet (the need to belong, the need to feel powerful, the need to feel valuable, the need to feel loved), the feelings that result are often very difficult to manage if we’ve never been taught HOW.

For example:

  • Those days when you swear you won’t yell at your kids & then find yourself screaming at them by 8am?

>>> Driven by how you feel & your unmet needs.

  • Those times when you freak out on your toddler & put your finger in his face with aggression, lecturing him to NOT be an awful human being?

>>> Driven by how you feel & your unmet needs.

  • Those seasons when threatening becomes your way of life …. when you the “if / then statements” flow like honey from your mouth?

>>> Driven by how you feel & your unmet needs

  • Those moments when you resort to hurting your child in an attempt to make her stop hurting others?

>>> Driven by how you feel and/ or your unmet needs.

  • Those times when you make your child feel worse about himself in hopes it will make him behave better?

>>> Driven by how you feel and/ or your unmet needs.

Slowing down to feel and pausing to give ourselves time to create a solid plan of action, helps us take a break from all the fear, force, bribery & rewards (bandaids) and leads us to parenting in ways we’re later proud of.

But how do you start feeling? Commit to slowing down & looking inward.

When a stimulus comes your way (your kiddo misbehaves), here are the steps I recommend you do right away:

1. Slow down & breathe

Put your hand on your heart & practice a pause button / heart connector. Take at least one giant deep breath to give yourself time to think of a healthy intention.

2. Identify & label the emotion

Ask yourself “How am I feeling”. Happy, Scared, Sad, Mad or Hurt?

  • Kids fighting?
    • Often times, we feel scared they will hurt one another?
  • Toddler won’t get in his carseat?
    • Maybe you’re scared you’ll be super late & everyone will think you’re a hot mess momma? Or scared you don’t know what to do to get them to comply? (not knowing what to do can be so dang scary!)
  • Tween giving you an attitude?
    • Perhaps you feel hurt because you do so much for her & she doesn’t ever seem to say thank you? Or scared you’re going to raise a “mean girl”?
  • Kiddo who throws things when she’s mad, causing something that matters to you to break?
    • Often times when our kids get violent, rage sets in & we feel mad because our internal justice system goes off with a message we think we NEED to puff up about: “it’s NOT ok for someone to break things or be destructive when they’re angry.”

3. Make the feeling feel welcome … FEEL the emotion

Go ahead and just let the feeling descend on you instead of pushing it away. Give yourself a moment to let the feeling move through your body. Even one minute of visualizing this emotion moving (give it a color if that helps) can help you to actually feel it, so it can pass.

Just like misbehavior, meltdowns & challenging moments with our kids, emotions WILL pass if we feel them first, then allow them to move on.

This “Healing through feelings” meditation created by Pamela Dunn of Your Infinite Life Training & coaching company is a great place to learn how to feel thoroughly. *** It’ll take approximately 30 minutes, but by the end, you’ll understand well what it looks like to actually feel an emotion fully.

4. Choose how you’ll respond to the stimulus (misbehavior)

Then … and only then (after you’ve felt what you’re feeling & practiced a pause button) … move forward with action on how you’ll work with, teach, mentor, compassionately discipline or guide your child.

What you’ll find parents is the steps above will fill two of your own NEEDS BUCKETS:

  • The bucket that holds your need to feel powerful – yes actually feeling your feelings will feel powerful because you’ll realize just how strong you really are … hurt, anger & sadness won’t kill you and you are fully capable of managing them with integrity!
  • The bucket that holds your need to feel valuable – leading your kids with firm / kind leadership & modeling self-care, self-control & self-regulation makes you incredibly valuable to them as you are their first teacher in life.

Remember … when our needs buckets are filled up, we’ll misbehave (freak out, worry, lecture, hurt, shame, threaten, slam doors, etc.) LESS and respond like effective, calm & kind teachers MORE!

When WE misbehave less, we’re able to teach our children MORE, guiding them to have fuller buckets & less misbehavior too which is a win / win for everyone!

So are you ready to try it out? Emotional literacy WILL transform your parenting, are you committed to start building your feeling muscles?

Joy, peace, connection and confidence await you!

Raising A Strong Willed, Intense or Sensitive Child? If yes, I have a FREE guide for you!

This free planning worksheet will give you ways to build connection & ideas on how to work WITH them instead of trying to change them. Click HERE to get your free worksheet now.

Learn more about how Positive Parenting Curriculum can transform your life through these Fresh Start Family programs


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