So as I am writing this, my daughter (who has said that she wants to be called Polka Dots, so Polka Dots it is) and Matt are in the kitchen trying to teach her some independence. Now keep in mind she is pretty self-sufficient, but with my anxiety, I have enabled her to become dependent on asking for help. While asking for help is a great thing to do, there are many things that she is perfectly capable of doing on her own so she needs to. Needless to say, I am fairly anxious. So I am not allowed to be in there.
Now on to our topic today. Growing up I was basically scolded for crying. I was never allowed to feel anything. I was told that my feelings didn’t matter. So as you can imagine this just made me feel even more. I never could understand why. With many things that happened throughout my life at some point, I did stop feeling. Which took many, many years to undo. So for me, nothing is more important for my child than to let her know that her feelings do matter. So here are a few things I do to ensure she is mentally and emotionally healthy.
I let her cry
This seems to go without saying, but I let her cry. However, it does stress me a little. This may come as a shock being that I cry over pretty much everything, but I have no idea how to comfort my child when she is crying.
If she is inconsolable, then I tell her to try to relax and breathe and that is okay to cry. I also let her know that I have a hard time understanding her when she cries so I could help her better once she is done. She has never actually cried for very long, but I let her take however much time as she needs.
I try to help her through bought of panic
I see many signs of anxiety in my daughter. It hurts my heart. I know that I am fighting the stigma and hoping that it will become more and more acceptable, but I need her to know this is not a weakness. I know what it is like to have a panic attack, but I have no experience in another person experiencing one.
I now know what my loving future husband feels when he is trying to bring me down. Watching my nine-year-old baby girl spiraling because of an overwhelming amount of feelings. And it happens a lot when she is being punished. I try to avoid yelling. No one listens when you yell.
But I do have a stern tone, and when she gets wound up, I have to consciously change my tone to a calming, soothing tone. I need her to hear me and I need her to relax so she can hear me. If she is in trouble, I use the calm tone to explain to her what she did wrong and why I am disappointed. Usually, she is responsive and her breathing is more even.
I tell her I love her, often
So like me, one of her love languages is Words of Affirmation. She is super funny, but I tell that kid I love her many times a day. Growing up I would say ‘I love you’ to someone and they would say,”Okay.” I had to train them to say it back.
Who wants to do that? If I say I love you and you love me back then fucking say it! But seriously, she is a loveable kid. She wants hugs, at least, five times an hour. This is stressful because physical touch is not my love language, but I give her hugs with all the love I have to give because she needs them.
I have learned that while I have needs and feelings that it isn’t just about me. That I need to know what is important to her and what makes her feel good. I love her as often as possible because I never, never want her to feel unloved by me.
I let her see me have bad days
Growing up showing emotion wasn’t okay. You didn’t talk about it, you didn’t share you hid that shit inside. Well not in my house, I need her to know that if she ever feels sad to feel those emotions. I need her to know that if she is happy she need to be happy. I need her to know that feeling isn’t anything to be ashamed of.
I want her to see me have both good and bad days so she can see what it is like to have Bipolar. She may very well become diagnosed with it and I want her to see a different light of the illness aside from what the media paints.
I let her make her own decisions in regards to her body
Look she has hair. I have given her options and told her it is up to her. She doesn’t want to shave her armpits. Okay, that’s fine. Just don’t forget your deodorant because you get stinky like your mama. LOL but seriously, she is in charge of her body and I need to let her know now that she is the keeper of her body
Later on in life, she may run into some of the few (hopefully, we smash the patriarchy ) people left who think that her body is somehow theirs and she is 100% confident in her choices and knows that she is the only one who can make these decisions.
I am not a perfect parent. I yell sometimes, I don’t always cook dinner, and sometimes I let her just have cereal for three meals because it seemed okay to me. But that kid is healthy and happy. I never wanted to kids but then I did. And because of the feelings towards my own mother I was terrified that I wasn’t good enough to be a mother. Well, when I look at her I see an incredible human who is growing up to be an excellent contribution to this shitty world.
She is a pain in my ass at times, but I wouldn’t trade her for anything.
What do you do to take care of your kid’s emotional and mental strength? If you don’t have children, how do treat the kids around you to make sure they are healthy in all aspects?
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