I love the stage in baby/toddler-hood when my kids start to mimic! It is so funny the things you can get them to do and say! They are so silly. The truth is that kids not only mimic the actions and words of their parents, but they mimic the emotions and attitudes too.
We all know how hard it is to keep our cool during stress. My experience of living in Africa has proven many stressful times. I have seen how my positive reactions and negative reactions affect our kids’ own reactions. As TCKs they have their own struggles and stresses to go through and I don’t want to add to their weight by my bad attitudes. Here are three steps I try to take when we find ourselves in a stressful time: Aware, Care and Grace.
- Be aware of your reactions to stress. When you feel your buttons are being pushed, be aware of how you are reacting. If you make negatives remarks towards your new culture and new people, your TCKs will harbor those in their minds. With younger TCKs, they will sense your emotions on the rise and react to them. Often this leads to them acting out, being over emotional, and making you even more upset. Train yourself how to react to stress in healthy ways: exercise, quiet time, journal (my story), etc.
- By taking care of your stresses, you can decrease those negative mimicking risks. By “taking care” I mean be proactive in having stress releases build in to your lives to help you and your TCKs. Every family is different and your releases will be different too. *Moms—this is key for you!! Find healthy ways for you to de-stress, because you set the tone for your family every day! For our family with two babies, our releases have been in playing outside: walks, park, grass, climbing hills, football (not the American kind). Helping Africa feel more like “home” for us has lead us to discovering things and places we love about her. And the more like “home” we feel the less stress we feel.
- Give grace to your TCKs when they are acting out. Don’t let them disobey, but be proactive in giving them good things to play with and think about to redirect their negative feelings towards something good. There are so many stresses that can come into our TCKs’ world we can’t even see, so cut them a break when they’ve hit their limit and train them how to channel those emotions correctly. And if your little monkey said & did what they saw you do, give yourself some grace and do better next time!!
It is so important that we train our children how to deal with their emotions and attitudes in healthy ways, TCKs or not. Hard times will come, feeling will get hurt and they need to know how to react when those times come. We have the privilege and obligation to teach our children how to become emotionally healthy adults in a world that is sure to bring hard times. And it starts with you, mom & dad. How do you deal with stress, disappointments or anger? They are watching us; we need to show them out to live healthy lives–Monkey say, Monkey do!
Do you having any tips in teaching kids (or moms) to be emotionally healthy?