Every New Year, each of us considers the past year and how we can improve our lives as we head into the new year. Some of the most popular resolutions are exercising more, eating healthier and losing weight. Some resolutions are more about internal work, like finding ways to effectively address issues causing frustration, anxiety, stress or anger.
New Years Resolution: Be more present.
For those of us who have children in our lives, either as a parent or educator, what we do and how we do it greatly affects the youngest people in our lives. Children are constantly watching us with how we respond or react, and with what we say–good and bad–learning from both our actions and words.
Making sure our actions and words are consistent provides our children with a clear message with how to accurately discern and deal with the emotions of others as well as their own. For example, your child may pick up you are sad by cueing into your facial expression or tone of voice, and when they ask if you’re sad and you respond by saying I’m fine (in an effort to not ‘burden’ your child with your own emotion when clearly you’re not feeling fine) can result in your child feeling left confused and mistrusting of their own judgment when engaging or interacting with others. Rather it’s far better to be honest with our child and respond with, “yes, right now I’m feeling sad, but I’m dealing with it so I can feel better.”
Children learn through responsive relationships.
This response supports and reinforces the child’s sense of self and awareness of having accurately tuned into the other’s emotion as they continue to develop their empathic skills when being with others. Being honest without burdening them with the details can enhance not only their sense of self but also their sense of you.
For 2023, think about making your resolution to include looking beyond your immediate self and expand your resolution to build in how your attitudes and behaviors impact the young children around you.
- Perhaps you could be more present and less glued to your smartphone or tablet and engage in play, conversation, reading or art with your children.
- Perhaps you could take a few deep breaths and teach children how to regulate their emotions.
- Perhaps you could resolve to more closely observe and be aware of your child’s behaviors and feelings, so you can help them identify, understand and manage their feelings and those of others.
90% of the brain develops within the first three years of life 1. We have such a great opportunity to lay the foundation for a content and successful life for our youngest children by being our best selves around them and remaining attuned to their emotions, as well as our own.
No matter what the goals may be that you strive to attain, never forget the fact that we’re all human and imperfect so cutting yourself some slack is not only warranted but necessary. No doubt there will be times when you lose your cool or don’t handle a situation as well as you’d like – give yourself some grace. And remember the old oxygen mask rule – you have to take care of yourself in order to be available and able to be there for your kids…or you’ll be no good to your children no matter what your good intentions may be.
We at Housman Institute wish you the very best New Year filled with love and laughter, and hope and promise for peace and peace of mind… Happy 2023!
- Perry, Bruce. 2000. “How the Brain Learns Best.” Instructor 110 (4): 34–35. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ617199.
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