Do It Yourself - Fall 2017

Don't FALL into a Pattern

Picture yourself enjoying a nice fall, family outing– everyone has their hiking boots on and you’re heading onto a new trail through your favorite nature reserve. You are thoroughly enjoying the fact that your children are smiling and laughing as they make their way along the trail.  Suddenly, very loud voices start to penetrate the peaceful air and before you know it, there’s a large group of teenagers hot on your trail. They are singing along to music and laughing loudly, having a good time. Your peaceful feeling starts to fade as annoyance and frustration set in. You take a few deep breaths because you know when you start to feel this way you tend to get snappy with your family and lose your patience. The louder the music gets and closer the group gets, the more overwhelmed you become.

You know you must make a change in order to save your family from your impending bad mood. You calmly suggest stopping for a bit to enjoy a snack. You’re hoping that while your family snacks, the teenagers will make their way further up the trail and leave you in peace. You were able to recognize that your pattern when you feel frustrated and annoyed has the potential to ruin the day for everyone. Knowing this about yourself helps you avoid negative outcomes for your family’s hike.

Can you imagine how many things would go more smoothly for you and your kids if they were better at recognizing their emotional patterns? For example, if they realize that they act aggressively when they’re upset about losing a game, they could make the choice to ask for a rematch instead of stomping away. Or, if they understood that every time they’re excited they forget to go to the bathroom (and sometimes have accidents) they could be more conscious of taking bathroom breaks when having fun.

By helping kids recognize their emotional patterns, you can help them think of healthier ways to react to different emotions. Help your kids recognize their pattern and decide if that pattern helps or hurts them in the long run by asking:

  • What are you feeling inside?

  • What are you doing on the outside?

  • Do you do this every time you feel this way?

  • Is it the best thing for you to do?

Our emotions may blow like leaves in the wind but we get to decide where they land!