Raising children is no easy task, and there are no shortcuts. The ever-shifting ocean of emotions that children go through at various ages and stages poses one of the greatest challenges to parents. Here are a few things that I have found helpful in teaching my children to deal with the negative emotions they experience.
Encouraging positive traits such as kindness, appreciation, gratefulness, integrity, and unselfishness at an early age will help prepare them to deal with negative situations they will encounter later.
Reading or watching classics that show the rewards of being positive and solution oriented—Pollyanna and Heidi, for example—impart important life lessons in an enjoyable, memorable way.
It was a particularly hot, muggy summer day, and Jeffrey and I had already been traveling for a few hours when we plopped down in a stuffy bus station waiting room in northern Italy. "Did I really have to come?" he muttered.
How had I gotten this idea? Dragging a 14-year-old away from his friends to visit his grandparents—not exactly a teenager’s idea of fun!
We had another hour before we needed to catch the bus that would take us the rest of the way, and I didn’t know which was worse—the stale air in the waiting room or the thick air between us. “Would you like some ice cream?” I asked.
For my daughter Audrey's first birthday, my wife and I planned to have a small celebration with a few friends and family members at home; instead we ended up with a cupcake-themed extravaganza at the restaurant her grandparents manage. Admittedly, it was probably more for everyone else’s benefit. Audrey spent much of the time observing the proceedings warily from the safety of someone’s arms and flatly refused to pose for photos by her lone candle, despite (or because of) much encouragement to do so.
People talk about how fast time flies, and I feel it really does. Maybe that’s because I’m getting older. When I was a child, days, weeks, and months—not to mention years—seemed to pass so slowly; now it seems like only a few weeks ago that I first met Audrey. I remember that day so well, along with all my first impressions and emotions as I watched the nurse give Audrey her first bath, and then her falling asleep in my arms for the first time.
I think I have been guilty of saying “I’m sorry” too much, and that seems to have given my children the wrong idea. Years ago, for example, when my five-year-old fell off his bike, I said I was sorry. I had specifically told him to not ride up the hill on his newly acquired used bike until his dad had checked the brakes and taught him to use them, but he went up the hill anyway.