#ConsciousParenting: to be fully conscious and aware of parenting practices

You’re a cry baby / Stop crying / There’s no need to cry, you’re ok / Don’t be silly, there’s nothing to cry about… Sound familiar? Perhaps you heard this as a child? You may even say this to your own children. Parenting is hard work – but stop and take stock: We need to be fully aware that what we say and how we treat our children, is crucial in shaping the next generation.

Psychologists and therapists are clear about the effects of suppressed emotions in childhood. Telling a child to stop crying stops takes away their self-expression and is in effect shaming them.

It makes sense then that children who are ‘shut down’ in this way can grow into adults who find it hard to understand and process emotions. Studies show that this can contribute to mental hardships such as depression, anxiety. Low self-esteem and self-confidence issues.

Brené Brown, Ph.D., a research professor at the University of Houston, holds the Huffington Foundation-Brené Brown Endowed Chair at The Graduate College of Social Work. In her work, she discusses the effects of shutting down and shaming in childhood (including punishing children). Brown believes that emotionally free children are both aware of their feelings – and have the necessary tools to process them.

Parents often fear other’s reactions – think about a toddler in meltdown at the supermarket! Yet the fact is, children cry, (my son does, very loudly!) and it’s simply a natural expression and developmental process to understanding their sense of self in the world.

Unfortunately, boys bear the brunt: ‘Boys don’t cry’, is a worrying and outdated approach. The conscious parent realises that we need to help boys grow into men who are emotionally balanced and free.

Teach your children that there is nothing wrong with expressing how we feel. Whether that is sadness, anger, jealousy or grief. Encourage them to openly express themselves and accept that how they feel is OK.

Acceptance of feelings is the first step to working through them. Comfort your kids and help their developing minds navigate tough times. This results in adults who are emotionally free, can handle and understand their own emotions and are healthy, mentally and physically.

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