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One of the most important things you can teach your children is to recognize what they are feeling and to express their feelings in words. Help your children grow by teaching the many words for different emotions, and using examples when those feelings arise in themselves and others.

People’s actions can be “bad” but the feelings themselves are never “bad”. One reason children get stuck and don’t want to talk about feelings, even if you ask them to, is because they can confuse how they feel as being “bad” or “a problem” when it is actually the tough thing that happened that is the problem. Feelings are like important road signs, if we understand them and listen to them. They can teach us where to go next and what to look for.

Many children shut down when they are upset because they think all feelings except for happy ones are negative and shameful. When you teach your kids the language for many different feelings and invite them to explore and share them, it makes difficult feelings normal and healthy. The result is the development of emotional smarts and social skills. They can deal with what they are feeling, and have stronger friendships too. This also helps them have better self-esteem.
Even anger can be helpful when kids learn how to cope with it. The emotion of anger brings awareness that something is hurtful. When we recognize that we are hurt, our problem-solving skills can improve.


Pause and really listen to your child before offering advice or getting angry. This helps your child trust you and listen more openly to the advice you decide to give. When children are upset, be careful to understand their point of view and validate that they feel that way whether or not you agree. Children, along with adults, can better accept a different view of a situation once their emotions have been accepted and understood. Hearing the child’s viewpoint can reduce their defensive reaction. This doesn’t mean there is no consequence for breaking rules, but it means they can express what happened, or what their thought process was, so they can grow. Children who grow up with their feelings not accepted will struggle in the future.


Children often show us they are having a problem through their behaviour rather than words. If your child is acting out and getting into trouble often, it is a clue that something needs to be problem-solved or that they need emotional support to cope and move forward. This is a reason why the language of feelings is so important. It isn’t healthy if your child can’t tell you what is going on. When kids are acting out, there are reasons and many things can be done to help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help even if the difficulty doesn’t seem extremely serious. All children need guidance about emotions and relationships. If you ask for help or learn more about emotions and relationships yourself, you and your children will benefit.


All children need help to learn about their emotions and relationships. It is our job as adults to teach them these skills. Every child is different so we need to figure out what reaches each child individually. Look to what they truly enjoy to help them express themselves. Play, games, sports, art, writing, dance, horticulture, photography, music, and acting or role playing situations are great ways of helping kids learn to cope with difficult feelings and relationships. Creativity is a natural human way to learn and express ourselves. If your child has learned that feelings should be avoided, creativity can open them to emotions.



Teach your child that every person will experience times of strength and times of struggle. There is no shame in struggling. Often children are taught to focus way too much on the struggles they are having and get “stuck”, thinking they aren’t good enough. We need to help children balance the amount of time they focus on what is hard for them to learn and what their natural skills and passions are. Helping them build on what they naturally love is the secret to helping them grow self-esteem.

Counselling, social skill groups, life coaching and leisure activities are great ways of helping kids build skills they will need to be the best they can be. Taking your children to counselling, for example, to learn new coping skills in an area difficult for them, can be a big help to their growth and development. It does not mean that something is wrong with them. In fact, it makes them healthier, stronger and more confident people.


Negative thinking about the self is a huge problem for many North American people of all ages. This thinking often starts in childhood. Children are getting constant messages that they may not be good enough. Many children get “stuck” in thinking this way from hearing negative messages about themselves and then repeating them over and over in their thoughts. Repetitive negative thinking about the self, others and the world can lead to future mental health struggles.

Notice your child’s language and comments about him or herself and others. If your child says negative things repeatedly, it is a problem. It usually means they aren’t feeling good about themselves and need support to problem-solve and change that type of thinking. When kids practice negative self-talk, it leads to lower self esteem and can contribute to low mood and worry. It can leave them more vulnerable to being bullied as well. Bullying is dangerous to self esteem especially if children already believe they are not good enough. Look out for your child’s inner bully. Negative thinking is dangerous to mental health because it builds on itself. It becomes automatic to think painful and self damaging thoughts, much like learning an instrument or a sport, but with a negative result rather than a positive one.

Our brains are designed to change when we repeat thoughts and actions over and over. For example, picture yourself and your child skiing or tobogganing. If you go over the same path again and again it will soon get very slippery and grooved in. It becomes faster and faster for the two of you to slide down that path. Our brains work in a similar way. If you and your child are rehearsing painful or mean thoughts, you may have become very good at something that hurts you. To change negative thinking patterns, the person must start a different and positive path and practice that instead. Once people get used to a new positive path, they follow it automatically and they start to feel happier.


Many adults grew up being shut down and ashamed of their feelings. They tried to ignore them in order to get through tough times. We pass this on to kids unintentionally. Children are like mirrors that reflect back what they see in their environments. Teach your kids to grow emotionally by showing them you aren’t afraid to express feelings and to cope in a positive way. Don’t shame your children for having tough feelings or being upset. If you don’t know how, ask for help. There is nothing wrong with needing help. If your children need help, you want them to be able to ask for it, so it is important that you show them you are able to ask for help as well.

If you lose your temper, first apologize; next, show your kids how to grow by making emotionally healthy choices yourself. Teach them by example to take responsibility for their actions. Show them it is normal to make a mistake. It isn’t your fault if you didn’t learn these skills in your childhood. It is likely that your parents weren’t aware of how to cope with their difficult emotions in a healthy way either. Fear of feeling gets passed through generations. You can make a change for the better if you aren’t afraid to challenge yourself and learn new ways to connect with your child.

Reference: Lynne Steffy from Carizon


When the Scariest Part of Parenthood Is Socializing With Other Parents | Parents Survival Guide

When the Scariest Part of Parenthood Is Socializing With Other Parents | Parents Survival Guide

A planner by nature, I anticipated my babies’ arrivals by reading all the books, making all the lists, doing all the research, and generally convincing myself I had made a terrible mistake. Thankfully, both of my children survived their earliest years without much trouble, and I relaxed a little. However, just when it seemed like we were finally figuring things out, they started school.

At first, the great challenges of school included trusting the classroom educators, acclimating to a different routine, and remembering where to find things such as the online school calendar. But as the kids moved from their rural Maine Montessori years (from ages 3 to 5) to the Chicago Public Schools, things changed.

A lot.


Of course, the kids met our new challenges with resilience and grace, quickly falling into a new normal. I, on the other hand, have had a bumpier go of things.

You see, as an introvert, the scariest part of parenthood for me is socializing with other parents. Little by little, I’m figuring out ways to manage my discomfort, but I’m discovering there’s no quick or fast solution. Here are some of the challenges I’ve faced as an introverted parent, and what I’ve learned.

I am the kind of introverted working mother who can fake social ease just enough to keep the red flags lowered — as long as the socializing comes in short bursts, in small, familiar groups (one-on-one is ideal), and it’s extra helpful if I have a defined purpose for being there (i.e., if it’s my job). Alternatively, opened-ended and undefined social situations are, for me, the equivalent of the boogie man.

My kids are now six and seven. They are sweet, social people who enjoy playdates and group activities. They long to be in the mix of their school and neighborhood communities — after-school events, potlucks, and street parties. So I say yes to some things, and we keep showing up. We show up, the kids find their people and take off with their little wolf packs. I linger at the edge of the activity, not totally unlike a lone sock hanging limply from a clothesline.

Recently in therapy, I described my social-anxiety-while-among-other-parents as a middle school regression. It’s especially prevalent with other mothers. If faced with a large group of mothers who are catching up with each other in chatty clusters of designer leggings, sporty vests, and baseball caps, I immediately feel like I am 12 years old, standing at the front of the middle school cafeteria, feeling very Asian (which I am), wearing the wrong clothes, and wondering where to sit. To be honest, I skipped lunch for most of the middle school and high school and instead read peacefully in the library.

But it’s no longer just about me.

Before I continue, I have a few disclaimers. I always have disclaimers.

  • I’m sure the other mothers/parents are fine. My own social obstacles are not a judgement on them.
  • I am not looking for sympathy. This is simply how I am, and devising strategies for navigating this is my own inside job.
  • I could avoid these situations, but my own introverted personality shouldn’t prevent my kids from participating in their communities.
  • It’s important for my kids to see me doing things that I find hard and uncomfortable.

When I spoke to my therapist about this particular issue, she reminded me that many people struggle to find their place among other parents. On one hand, this is a good reminder that we all have our challenges — introverted or not — but dealing with it sometimes calls for very different game plans depending on the individual.

The other day, I read this article in The New York Times called “Making Friends With Other Parents Is Like Dating.” While I found it interesting, the tips didn’t resonate as much as I had hoped because I’m not trying to find my next BFF. The article touches upon the awkwardness and uncertainty among peer parents, but it encourages friend-making. I do enjoy my friends and occasionally developing new friendships, but my main goal is to feel at peace when required to share space with other parents.

It’s not easy being an introverted parent, but learning to look at things a little differently has helped me when I’ve found myself volunteering in my kids’ classrooms, at a mother-son dance, or at a school potluck. If you’re an introverted parent, I hope these three things help you, too:

This is easier than it sounds because unfortunately, I do care what people think of me. I’m not sure why this is, but whatever the reason, the best way forward, as author Anne Lamott reminds us, is bird by bird. And as Glennon Doyle reminds us, we just have to do the next hard thing.

So if my strongest instinct is to bring a book and read quietly while the kids are playing, I should read my book. Yes, it makes me fairly unapproachable and perhaps, to some, a little rude. But if I’m not causing harm, if I’m keeping an eye on my kids, and I don’t feel like practicing the small talk, then really, I should be able to read my book.

I am the mom who prefers to be with the kids. The kid space feels down-to-earth, authentic, and comfortable. I find myself, at times, in the center of a kid circle. My kids will come to tell me something, their friends will follow, and the next thing I know, we are in a discussion about their game, their classroom, or a funny joke someone just learned. Perhaps I am not intimidated by elementary school kids because they are usually the only ones who are shorter than I am. But it’s probably because they are the most fun.

As introverts, our minds are always going, imagining what might be coming up next. So this point is possibly the hardest one for me. However, if I don’t have any expectations for whatever I’m doing, I can relax a little. This is more of an overall life strategy, but it can work well with other parents. If I do not expect anyone to interact with me in any specific way, if I don’t expect to feel like a weirdo while doing my own thing, if I don’t expect any event to be great or terrible, it’s easier to find moments where I can be present.

Recently, I was sitting on a bench, listening to a podcast, watching my son play at the park. Another mom came up and sat next to me, commenting that sitting quietly seemed like a good idea. So that’s what we did — we sat peacefully together, without awkwardness or expectation, simply watching our kids play. Sometimes it’s enough just to show up.

So I will. I will show up when it’s important for my kids, and I will continue to challenge myself to find my place among other parents. Sometimes it will be scary, but sometimes it might be pretty good. Most often, I imagine, it will fall somewhere in the middle. And that in itself is a valuable message for my kids: In our family, we try hard, we do things that scare us, and even when the results are average at best, we should still feel okay about it.

Reference: Sara Watkins from Introvertdear

This is how to make the most out of a short parent-teacher conference, Mama

This is how to make the most out of a short parent-teacher conference, Mama

For the first time, I sat on the other side of the conference table. My 4-year-old daughter's teacher apologized for placing her cell phone visibly on the table as it started counting down. 11:59, 11:58, 11:57. She was trying desperately to stick to an almost impossible schedule.

I had 12 minutes to hear everything about my daughter's classroom experience—her academic performance, behavior, frustrations, challenges, goals, as well as flip through a binder of her work that probably took her teacher way more than 12 minutes to prepare.

As a special education teacher, I have conducted many parent-teacher conferences, so I'm very familiar with one-on-one time with parents. After almost nine years, I've figured out how to get the best out of this short period of time.

The most important thing to remember during a parent-teacher conference is NOT to feel timed—which is hard to do with a clock counting down before your eyes and the buzzing of parents gathering by the door waiting for their turn. But even though you only have a few minutes, this should not be the only chance to communicate with teachers. If it feels like is, the conference is a great time to fix that.

Here are five ways to get the most out of a parent-teacher conference:

1. Be a good listener.

In most cases, the teacher should have prepared some information to share with you. It's okay to just listen and not feel pressured to interrupt with questions. If you decide to share anecdotes, make sure they are short and to the point—don't waste time on frivolous topics.

2. Come prepared with at least three questions.

You may have specific questions already. If not, consider asking questions about how your child interacts or plays with her peers or how they participate in classroom activities. Some examples:

  • Does he ask questions or wait to be called on?
  • Does she transition well between activities?
  • Does he have difficulty working independently?
Often children behave differently at home and at school, and these questions will prompt the teacher to speak in more detail about their behavior in the classroom and on the playground. One of my favorite questions is: "How can I support my child at home?" This gives teachers an opportunity to talk about academic or social areas in which your child would benefit from help or reinforcement. It will also let the teacher see that you are a team player and want to work with your child to help them succeed.

3. Ask to review your child's work after the conference is over.

It's a good idea to take their work into the hallway so the next parent can start their conference. That way you can take your time looking at the work and it doesn't take away from your 12 minutes.

4. Create a plan at your conference.

Depending on your child's goals, you can make a plan at the conference of how you can help your child at home. For example, if your child is having difficulty using scissors, the teacher may have suggestions for activities you can do together at home or materials you should have access to around the house. If you'd like to communicate more regularly with the teacher, you can decide together the best way to consistently share helpful information. The teacher may offer to create a weekly progress report or a special notebook that both of you write in daily. Whatever your plan is, you should leave the conference with a clear understanding of your role and responsibility as well as the teacher's in making it work.

5. Set up a follow-up meeting.

Teachers understand that 12 minutes twice a year is not enough time to discuss all of your concerns. You may need to set up an additional meeting to continue the conversation or to re-evaluate the plan you've put in place. This can often be done over the phone or at a time more convenient than the scheduled conferences.


source: mother.ly