What parent doesn’t want their child to be able to control their behaviour, their emotions, and their words? Emotional regulation (aka self-control) is something that we all strive to foster in our child. We want them to be able to grow and have self-control. It’s an important skill for them to have. Research demonstrates that children who have better self-control are less likely to be aggressive or experience anxiety and depression.
As with all areas of child development, each child is an individual and will progress at their own pace. Emotional and behavioural self-control is a skill that develops over time. As parents, we are in a perfect position to be able to help enhance their development in this crucial area.
Despite our best intentions, even the most dedicated parent, can often do or say things that hinder our child’s emotional development. Becoming aware of what we should be avoiding allows us to take steps towards helping our child develop emotional self-control sooner and easier.
5 common mistakes parents make while encouraging self-control.
1. Consistent negative focus
Consistency is the key to teaching our children any skill, including developing self-regulation. It is common to focus on the negative behaviour or the “bad” or “unacceptable behaviour”. However, if we want our child to do one behaviour versus another, we must consistently focus on the behaviour that we do want them to do. If all they hear from us is negativity about their emotional self-control, then this is what they will live up to.
2. Expecting kids to always remember how to behave
Kids aren’t focused or concerned with the benefits of controlling their emotions, learning how to stop having a tantrum or fighting with their kids. They’re not always thinking about what they should or shouldn’t be doing. They can’t always remember the rules or how they should act, especially in the moment, their neurological system isn’t as highly developed as ours.
As parents, we need to be consistently communicating and reinforcing these in a positive and gentle way to facilitate their development.
3. Not allowing “bad days”
We all have bad days. We have days where we’re not in the best of moods or states. It happens to adults and happens to our kids. Society has gotten into a state where children have to be perfect, where kids can’t be kids anymore and have to live up to standards of adult behaviour. Expecting our kids to be perfect is impossible. When they try to live up to this standard and are not allowed to blow off some steam then they’ll never learn how to come back from the edge.
4. Providing the wrong example
Children will tend to adopt the behaviours that they are the most often exposed to. If a parent models emotional regulation as well as healthy expression of their emotions (e.g. no excessive aggression, yelling, anxiety, name calling etc…) then a child is more likely to develop their emotional regulation both earlier and easier. If a parent is frequently frustrated, yelling, screaming etc… then these behaviours are modeled for their child and this is how the child will learn to act in a stressful situation.
5. Not looking after themselves
Teaching emotional skills to our kids is hard work. If we want to provide the right example as well make the biggest positive impact on our kids while being a good role model, we must look after ourselves. We cannot give from an empty cup and we can’t teach from an empty cup.
Looking after our own emotional state enables us to teach the skills we learn for ourselves and teach them to our children. It is these lessons that will hold them in good stead for their adult life.
These 5 common mistakes are easy to do and often unintentional. They are also very simple to reverse. A few changes to the way we interact with our kids and how we are within ourselves can make all the difference.
Do you do any of these with your kids? If you’d like some support while changing any of them, then get in contact with me via Facebook or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can have a chat about the changes that will make a positive impact in your child’s life.