Cultivating “one distinct advantage” in kids

Tapping into my child development expertise in this, the second in a series on the repercussions of the pandemic on children…

Last week we looked at social development (click here to read that one.) In future weeks we discuss mental and physical health, so stay tuned!

If you’ve got any friends who might find the series relevant, invite them to sign up for these free weekly newsletters at the following link: https://weturnedoutokay.com/weekly

I would feel so honored if you shared. Because it means that not only are you getting a lot out of what I teach, but you know that someone else will too. Let’s spread this important information far and wide!
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Let’s talk about emotional development.

Recently my dad called me, just to chat. As soon as he asked “how are you?” I burst into tears.

We ended up talking for over an hour.

Dad really listened to me. He asked very good questions. And then he asked great follow-up questions.

When we got off the phone I told him “I feel so much better.”

And I really did! There is true power in feeling heard.

“One distinct advantage”…
As we were hanging up I said to him “thank you so much!” And my dad said something really interesting:

“One of my favorite people I worked with [before retiring from the corporate world], a fellow executive named Allison, used to tell me “women have one distinct advantage over men.… women can cry.””

We then talked about how – hopefully, anyway – nowadays this is a less-gendered situation.

Because crying is not a sign of weakness in anyone; instead, it’s a sign that someone is feeling deep or strong emotions.

I responded to Dad with this: “Well, my therapist often says, “affect doesn’t lie.”” (Affect is the showing of feelings; when used in this way it’s pronounced “AFF-ect.”)

We often tell ourselves not to cry. As adults we beat ourselves up for this supposed weakness.
If we feel that way, perhaps we are passing on this message to our children.
Perhaps, instead of cultivating this “distinct advantage,” we’re discouraging it.

In them, as well as in us.

And that would be a shame. Because getting out our emotions – processing them and being able to let them go – is an important part of emotional development.

The real troubles come when we push our emotions down and try to ignore them.

But I also had something really important to thank my father for.

“Thank you,” I told him, “for taking me seriously. You didn’t tell me to stop crying. You didn’t tell me not to worry. You took time – a LOT of time as it turns out! – to help me get to the heart of the problems that caused my crying. I feel loved, and seen, and taking care of.”

Can you imagine if my father had instead told me “stop crying. There’s nothing to cry about here.”

I would have felt utterly invalidated, instead of feeling the support and gratitude of being taken seriously.

Instead of feeling loved and cared for.

Our conversation would’ve ground to an immediate halt.
Instead of it being the opportunity for me to process my emotions, understand them, and make good decisions about what caused them in the first place.

Emotions are real, and we all experience them.

We can see them in our children and can feel frightened. How can so much feeling be safe in such a small person?

As I see it, our objective is to help them safely share about, and thus process, their feelings.

Let me know what I can do to help!

Cheers –
Karen
PS I share more about my dad’s conversation in the most recent episode of the We Turned Out Okay Podcast…
It’s part of a broader conversation with my one-to-one coaching client, Chloee, about how she can best support her young daughter (socially, emotionally, mentally, and physically… interestingly, what this series is about!) in the pandemic.
Listen in your favorite podcatcher!
Or go to https://weturnedoutokay.com/358. I hope it’s super helpful <3

PLUS… 

  • What’s the pandemic doing to my child? A 5-Week Masterclass…

“What is the pandemic doing to my child?” is a question I get asked all the time.

As a child development expert, not only do I know the answer to that. I also know what to do about it.

This five-week program begins Wednesday, May 12 and addresses the concerns parents have about their children’s development during the pandemic.

We’ll cover:
– The toll that long-term confinement and sequestration from others can cause
– Strategies to handle this long-term confinement and limit the negative impacts
– How to create a home environment that supports your child’s social and emotional development
– Dealing with reentry including handling anxiety, bullies, and other social concerns

All along we’ll be diving into your specific questions and issues.
To make absolutely sure that you have a plan going forward we’ll spend our last class time together in a Q&A, so you can have all your concerns addressed and questions answered.

If that sounds good to you, I’m offering a special earlybird price… But only until April 8, 2021.
Visit https://weturnedoutokay.com/pandemicclass/