How your child feels what you feel

I met someone recently at a work event and we started talking about their approach to parenting differed from their partner’s.

To be precise, they shared with me how they felt when their partner insisted on using the controlled crying method with their first child; this person described the pain they felt when they heard how distressed their daughter was.

And as they told me this, it was as if I could feel that pain too, and this “quote” (that I’ve just attributed to myself, thank you) just came out of my mouth.

“If the way you are with your child doesn’t feel right to you, it won’t feel right to them”

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Now this absolutely wasn’t – and isn’t – intended to be critical. But I firmly believe it’s true.

I think it’s often the case that we don’t fully acknowledge our negative emotions when we’re in certain situations; in fact, a lot of the time we do the exact opposite and we bury them (not always consciously, but we do).

However, our emotions and the feelings they give rise to are there for a reason – a very simple reason and that is to guide our behaviour.

So, it follows logically that if you don’t pay attention to your emotions, you’re not paying attention to the very thing that influences what you do and how you do it.

Here’s an example:

You’ve had a long day where something particularly stressful happened and you weren’t able to do anything about it.

You (unintentionally) carry that feeling of stress with you into the evening and at bath time, when your child splashes water over the floor, you snap at them to stop messing around or you’ll take them out immediately.

Your negative feeling ---> behaviour annoying you ---> you snapping ---> everyone feeling bad.

And you know that last time they splashed around in the bath you all found it funny and the wet floor really wasn’t a big deal.

Like I said, I didn’t write this with intention to criticise because no-one, absolutely no-one gets it right all of the time.

You’re human, your emotions and feelings are real and sometimes they take over. It happens.

And that is perfectly ok.

No, I wrote this more as a way of encouraging you to really pay attention to how you feel when you interact with your child – what you say to them and how you are with them.

And if it doesn’t feel right then it’s important to think about how you can do it differently, whether in that moment or the next time.

Because it naturally follows that the opposite is true:

“If the way you are with your child feels good to you, it will feel good to them.”

And who doesn’t want that.

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Who are Mellownest anyway?

We're Claire and Nneka.

You might be wondering whether we're worth listening to - after all, we don't know your family.

But we do know a lot about psychology, child development and how little brains work.

As a qualified psychologist and emotional wellbeing expert we've helped hundreds of families to adjust their mindsets, learn new tools and have more fun!  Read our story.