Parenting is a tightrope walking, high-wire aerial act, and there is rarely a net to catch you if you fall. Small errors are recoverable, but big ones will send you flailing and failing all the way down. Scary? You bet! But there are some things you can do from the beginning that will give you some sticky glue on your feet and a trampoline to catch you.
My friend Hjalmar and I talked about this the other day as I exercised and he encouraged. (He is an awesome personal trainer!) I shared with him the “emotional construct” theory and practice that my husband and I developed over the years.
We don’t claim credit for this concept. It comes from the knowledge we gained from “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk,” by Faber and Mazlish. We just took it a little further.
The emotional construct is made when you are not emotional, and so you need to do it long before you need it. This requires some foresight and communication between you and your partner, but it is well worth the effort. Emotional Intelligence is something that children acquire over time, and you can role model it by using the emotional construct.
Think about the most emotional battles you had with your parents as you were growing up. Often, they were only battles because you felt strongly about something and your parents had not made their expectations crystal clear. In that scenario, emotions will ignite and something that should be simple can become a battleground.
Here is an example. Let’s say your child is completing his driver’s ed course and about to get his permit. In his mind, once that card is in his hand, the keys to your car should land there, too. This may not be what you are thinking at all. His emotions will be running high, and if you are not prepared when he assumes he should be able to drive your car, yours may kick into high gear as well. As Gary Larson wrote in his great cartoons, “Trouble Brewing.” Continue reading