“Allow your child to see your real emotions.” This is a piece of advice that I often give parents. And I always find that this advice is met with surprise bordering on shock.
A parent’s love for a child is unimaginable and limitless. Every parent wants to do what is best for the child. Parents want to keep their children safe from all harm and ensure that they are happy. And this is only natural.
But is it possible to keep a child safe and happy all the time?
The answer to that question unfortunately is “No”
The real world is full of challenges. There are physical challenges, Mental challenges and emotional challenges awaiting us at every corner. Unhappiness is waiting to grab us at every corner.
As adults we are well aware of the challenges of the world and the unhappiness it can bring – and so we attempt to protect our children from those challenges.
We think that if we keep our children in a bubble – protected from all negative emotions and all sources of conflict and unhappiness – we will be able to keep our children happy. And so, not only do we prevent children from seeing anger, pain and suffering in the outside world – we keep them far away from our own natural emotions as well.
No matter how we feel – whether we are angry, sad, scared or upset – we try to look “normal” and happy in front of our children.
We think that by doing this we will keep them safe from negativity and unhappiness – but the only thing we succeed in doing when do this is – confusing them.
Children need to see real emotions. When they know that they have not done something that they should do – they need to see you unhappy and upset. Acting calm and happy in such a situation only confuses them.
Children also need to see real emotions in their parents so that they can recognize these emotions and feel comfortable with them when they see them in other people.
A child who has never seen an angry parent will be shocked and traumatized when he encounters an angry teacher or an angry friend.
A child who has never seen an upset or sad parent will be confused when he feels upset or sad himself for some reason because he will think that he is feeling this way because there is something wrong with him.
Show your child your real emotions and tell him that the emotions have names and are absolutely normal. This will keep him emotionally healthy.
The path to happiness lies through meeting challenges and conquering them – not avoiding them. Allow your child to see your real emotions.
Read more on how to keep your child healthy here