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We are all triggered in different ways by different life events and daily occurrences.

The way our children behave or the emotions they express, commonly trigger an emotional response from parents.

Why are we so easily triggered into an emotional response by our kids and what can we do about it?

In my last blog post, I talked about the importance of listening to our kids and supporting them to express their emotions. This kind of listening is a common example of when our emotions are triggered by our kid’s behaviour or emotions so I will use that as an example here (Read the blog post about listening to your kid’s big emotions here)

You are trying really hard to stay calm and listen to your child rage or cry but inside, all of your emotions are triggered.

  • You may feel angry and think (how dare she scream at me like this)
  • You might feel hard done by and that it isn’t fair (why should I listen to him when……)
  • You could feel sad and that you need to stop your child crying (because listening to their hurt, hurts you too much).

These triggers make it hard for you to do the job you want to do with your child, which is hold space for them and listen to their deepest feelings.

I am not going to go into all of the reasons we are triggered because that is deep and private work, and it takes time and support. What I will say is this;

We are commonly triggered by listening to emotions because of our own experiences of not feeling heard. 

This could be attributed to our childhood;

  • We didn’t have our feelings validated by our parents.
  • We were encouraged to suppress our emotions (big girls/boys don’t cry etc)
  • We come from a family that believed that children should be seen and not heard.

It could be attributed to our present relationships;

  • We cannot express our true feelings to our partner for fear of being hurt.
  • We worry about being judged or belittled by friends.
  • We feel stuck in the unspoken rules of our family of origin.

The secret to managing the emotional triggers that come up when we are trying to connect more deeply and listen to our children, is to find someone to truly listen to us while we speak our own deepest feelings. To feel truly heard.

Just as I ask you to listen to and validate your kid’s emotions, so too should you be listened to and validated. Just as I ask you to encourage your kids to express their emotions so they develop in a healthy way, I encourage you to express yours so they can continue to develop in a healthy way.

If we talk to someone who commits to truly listening to us without judgement and without trying to fix things, we can work through these feelings so that they don’t sabotage our work as parents.

So here are a couple of things you can do;

  • Find a listening buddy and make an agreement with them. This needs to be someone you trust not to judge you. You need to set down the ground rules of talker and listener. (you can offer each other this service as needed so it is not one sided) The listener just listens, no advice or trying to fix things and the talker talks openly about how they were triggered in a situation. It is ideal if your listening buddy is a parent too.
  • Make opportunities to have listening and talking time with your partner )if you have one). This is great practice for listening to your kids, as the same rules apply as above for the listener, no advice, no trying to fix things, just listening to whatever the talker wants to say – No digs at the listener as this is unfair as they have no right to reply. Do 5 minutes each of talking/listening whenever you can.
  • If these options are not for you, seek the support of a professional listener.

I know that you believe your children deserve to be heard, respected and listened to, so I want you to apply that same rule to yourself. You deserve it.

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