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Strengthening emotional connections
The last 9 months whilst locked in together, or now as you try to regain some new normality will definitely have taken many of you to levels of emotional exhaustion and compassionate fatigue. Even though we might be slowly moving towards a new sense of normality the demands on us and our children’s well-being could still be taking their toll. This term will most definitely have been the most challenging and we aren’t quite over this yet.
It is normal to have periods where we feel children are testing us to the limit, but with the demands of teaching them married with not being able to escape could have created emotional conflict at home. We may have even temporarily shut down from our emotions as a self-preservation mechanism. However, children are very perceptive to this and in truth it makes the situation far worse. The key is to positively reconnect with our children again as soon as possible.
Children will challenge us on every dimension. They will also activate emotions more intense that you will have ever experienced before, positive and negative! The psychology of parenthood is very understated and the impact it has on us as human beings can hugely affect the effectiveness of how we perform in the role, particularly if we don’t stay reflective along the way. This same psychology can be transferred to the relationships we develop in school.
When we are out of sync emotionally with children, things change. Our patience is reduced, we filter out the positive, focus more on the negative, and tend to respond more harshly. This change activates a negative sense of self in our children which is usually acted out as a behavioural response. This can then very quickly fall into a cycle of negativity, with one event driving another and another and so on.
The only way to get things back on track is to reconnect with the child or young person and this is essential so that children feel as emotionally stable as possible when returning to school, whether it be after a period of missed school or even after a weekend! We need to see the positive they do and treat them with the love, warmth, and compassion that we feel on our more positive parenting days. Even if we don’t always feel it, acting it often starts the process of positive change. Remember, parenting and teaching focus should only ever go in one direction, from adult to child. Children need you to be in charge with this and take the lead. It is for you to feed your child with positive emotional nurture and not the other way around. The results are often quick and pleasing from both sides when the connection has been rekindled, which is a win-win!
Many of us going might miss our lockdown family members on some level when we separate again. Even though it might have been tough at times, let’s end things on a high and make this term the best for emotional connections we can. It will be worth the effort, as they will need these strong bonds to help them deal with the new demands life will place on them in the future.
Top tips for rebuilding emotional connections
- Validate all of children’s and young people’s emotions. We don’t have to agree with them or even believe them but unless they feel understood they will learn to supress what they feel which can lead to complications further down the line or in turn express them in extreme ways. Only by validating what a child feels can we help guide them to greater emotional intelligence and self-regulation
- Talk. Emotional connection comes with communication. It may be difficult at first, but it’s worth it
- Apologise. If you have been ratty, stressed or short-tempered, tell them you are sorry. It is amazing how our children can warm to you when you admit to getting things wrong too
- Book in some quality time. Do something special together.
- Tell them how this situation is making you feel and what you would like to make things better
- Smile wholeheartedly and from your eyes when they come to you
- Ask each other what you can do to move this forward and start being nicer to each other again
- Listen to what they say. Our children will often teach us what we need to do if we are brave enough to stop and listen
- Your children will be nervous about leaving you once returning to school becomes imminent. Validate their feelings and go over the top with patience, support and emotional availability
Hot off the press and as featured on the BBC and the media during the coronavirus pandemic
If you liked this article then you might enjoy our latest resource, the COVID-19 Special Edition supportive manual which has been created to help the parents, carers and teachers of children and young people to navigate the emotional changes that will occur during these challenging times and beyond. Most of this content has been featured on BBC radio and television broadcasts, and local and national newspapers to support families and the general public.
In addition, many of the psychological issues we have addressed during this period are applicable and transferable to other life events, to teach skills we can always have ready in our emotional toolkit.
Other helpful resources:
The benefits of Unravel’s unique approach
The Unravel approach is unique and scientifically proven. It’s based around gaining insight into what child are feeling and how we can work together to improve this. We empower children by teaching them how to become the master of their brain rather than a slave to their emotions.
The same principles are subtly incorporated into The Blinks books which also support children’s emotional well-being.
The series titles include Worry, Anger, Self-esteem, Sad, Shy and Love. They also tackle other social issues including bullying, bereavement, separation and divorce, school avoidance, elected mutism and running away. Alongside each novel is a Reference Manual so that parents, carers and professionals can be one step ahead in nudging their child’s emotional well-being more confidently in the right direction.
We are currently offering 10% off purchases of 3 or more. If you are interested visit www.theblinks.co.uk