Being a mother of two boys age 17 and 9, I have spent the last 17 years searching for ways that I can nurture my son’s emotional development so that they can express their feelings authentically and have a strong sense of self. This hasn’t been an easy task for me as there is so much social pressure for boys to be tough and never show any vulnerability. On occasion, I’ve heard my own husband say to our son, “Don’t cry. You’re being weak if you cry.” This is what he was told as a boy and how he was nurtured to become the man he is today, but what if his parents could have done things differently? What would happen if we nurtured our children so that they could grow up to be sensitive and caring people who regularly performed acts of kindness? The old paradigm of the tough guy is no longer the ideal that society expects boys to become.
Our world is rapidly changing and moving into greater consciousness. In order for our children to grow into mature and wise adults who can meet the challenges of life set before them with grace and ease, they first need to have a foundation which is based in love. As parents, we can do a great deal for our children by teaching them how to turn to their hearts and honor their emotions.
Here are some potent tools that will help you to help your children develop their emotions in a healthy way:
Tool 1: Listening to the Heart
Let your child know that every time he or she needs guidance or simple reassurance, to close their eyes and take in a few deep breaths and place his or her attention directly on their heart. As your child focuses on their heart for a few moments, he or she can then ask for guidance from their heart. Your child should trust whatever feelings come up. Reassure him or her that whatever comes up is okay, and that nothing should be discounted. If nothing arises for your child that’s okay too. Just ask your child to remain open and patient throughout his or her experience.
Tool 2: Breathing
Very often when children are upset they forget to breathe or begin hyperventilating because of intense emotions that may arise that they can’t deal with. Remind your child to breathe in deeply as the emotion arises. Taking in just five deep breaths can totally change a child’s state of mind from highly emotional to quite calm. This is a wonderful tool for children who are prone to fits of anger or are highly anxious. Breathing practice is highly recommended on a daily basis so children can learn how to self manage their emotional state and become more responsive and less reactive to challenging situations in their lives.
Tool 3: Meditation
Meditation is a wonderful tool to teach children starting as young as age five. Through simple techniques such as focusing on the breath moving in and out, or counting the breath, children learn how to train their mind which allows them to be more focused, calmer, have better memory retention and more emotional stability. It has been scientifically proven that meditation can also greatly reduce depression and aggressive behavior. In addition, children who meditate often have a strong self esteem and are less likely to succumb to peer pressure.
Tool 4: Hand on the Heart
Sometimes children have a hard time listening to their parents and are unfocused or easily distracted. When we put our hand on our heart we often find that we can speak our truth and really listen to one another. This gesture brings us back into our bodies if we have floated off into space. It is a wonderful way for our children to learn how to be really present with whoever they are speaking or listening to.
Tool 5: Be in the Moment with Your Children
When you leave work, leave work and just be with your child. Don’t take phone calls during dinner. Afterwards, read a bedtime story to your child or make one up. Your child will love it when you use your imagination to create a personalized story just for him or her. It’s also nice to do projects together like planting a garden or baking cookies. Be sure to avoid television as a substitute for quality time. One of the best things that I did one year ago was stopping my subscription to cable TV.
Each child is unique, so how we nurture one child may not work for another. We need to really listen to what our children our asking for and what they aren’t asking for but may truly need. While there are times your child may drive you crazy and you want to jump in the car and drive off to Lovina for the weekend, there are also those magical moments that are etched in our minds – the first time our child rode a bike and didn’t fall down; their first day at school when we kissed him on the cheek and waved goodbye at his classroom door not wanting him to see the tear that quietly slipped out of our right eye. Our children learn how to be brave, vulnerable, kind, loyal, generous, loving and inspiring through our encouragement and example. As parents, we are their role models of how to become conscious beings. It’s a tall order, I know, but it’s definitely worth it!