Whatever you want in life, it has to starts with you!
Emotional competency is about your ability to tune in to your emotions. You can identify with those feelings, identify where they come from, know what they mean, and understand how it is affecting your decision-making, behaviour and your relationships with other people.
When someone has some challenges with their mental well-being, such as feeling stressed, being anxious or depressed, it will affect his or her thinking, behaviour, and how he or she interacts with people around. It goes without saying, that affects your relationships with your children and your family.
Parenting can be the most rewarding and the most challenging career you will ever face. Parenting is where we see our rage, anger, frustrations, anxiousness and stress come from our fears. And who can remind you of or reflect those fears? – Your children of course!
I remembered when my daughter was an infant, she was a very unsettled baby. She needed to be carried all the time, seldom slept for more than half an hour at a time and was very hard to settle. She was clingy and disliked being left on her own, even for a short while.
Yet I never had that problem with my elder son. He was very settled, napped easily and was always happy when left alone on his play mat.
So when I was faced with new challenges with my daughter, my stress level was rather high. I was totally out of my comfort level; I just did not know how to settle her.
My children were very close in age, so when I was so busy settling my daughter, my son, who was just a toddler at that time, felt neglected and needed my attention. He used various attention seeking behaviour that toddlers know best.
Each day my stress level started to rise by noon, and by afternoon nap time, it would be extremely high. I could feel my body tense, the tone of voice changed. My patience was stretched and my voice rose, with some undesirable language that followed. My poor son would sometimes bear the brunt of my frustration.
This is where my emotional attunement to myself needed to come in, but did not. I was reacting to my stress and my fear without understanding where they were coming from.
So instead of asking myself questions such as: Why am I stressed? Where do all the emotions coming from?… My thoughts would always be: "What's going on with her?" "What have I done wrong?"" Why is she so unsettled?" "Why is she such a difficult baby?"
Looking back 20 years and being a little wiser, I could have changed my attitude. Instead of thinking "what have I done wrong?" or "what's wrong with her?", it would have been so much better to shift my thinking and focus to my daughter instead. Such as "She does not like to be left alone, how can I overcome this and help her feel safer?"
My daughter at the time was just an infant, and my job was to stay connected with her and read her cue. However, my mental state was one of stress and fear. I was not in a feasible mental and emotional state to listen to anything. At that time, I just wanted it to go away.
If I had my time all over again, what would I have done differently?
This is what I would do:
- I would learn to find ways to stay calmer and be more connected to myself down before I start the day.
- I would treat parenting as a proper career – learn parenting techniques and make an effort to learn more about children's behaviour.
- I would make use of the resources I had at that time. I would spend more one-on-one time with both my children, so that could I could have a better understanding of their personality, and be more attuned to their cues and emotional needs.
I have learned that whatever I want in life, whether it be a calmer home, happier children or to be a more empowered parent etc., it has to start with ME!
So today, this is what I want you to take with you – Whatever you want in life, it has to start with you!