“You can’t always control circumstances. However, you can always control your attitude, approach, and response. Your options are to complain or to look ahead and figure out how to make the situation better.” ― Tony Dungy, Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices & Priorities of a Winning Life
Life has a nasty way of throwing curveball situations when you least expect it. It is how you handle them that can turn them into emotional growth and learning moments for both you and your child. I have had many situations thrown my way as I am sure you have. One of the most impactful situations for me was nine years ago. And from it, I learnt more than I ever thought I could.
When my daughter was one month old, her biological dad left us. I was twenty at the time and had no idea what I was doing. I struggled so hard to find a good routine for my child even when I was mentally falling apart. I remember trying to hide the pain, pushing it aside for the benefit of my daughter and acting like everything was fine. This, in my opinion, was the worst way to handle it.
My depression and anxiety I had as a teen came flaring back and they brought friends. Fears of failure, society telling me I had screwed up and my brain telling me to just… give up. On a bad day, I would palm my child off to my mum and cry all day. On a good day, I struggled to breathe. The emotions were overwhelming, and I did not know how to handle them properly. My daughter developed anxiety and a fear of abandonment. I couldn’t even put her down to go to the bathroom at one point but looking back, I am not sure if it was her emotions or mine that forced that. It got so bad that I knew something had to change.
Honestly, what I needed was a pocket professional guide, like I have now in ParentalEQ BackPack App. What I had at the time was professionals, the internet and a fantastic support group. I researched how to navigate emotions and the impact of separation on younger children. I spoke to professionals about handling my daughter’s anxiety, and I reached out to women who had gone through what I did. Each had their own brilliant advice that helped including breathing techniques, how to help my daughter (at her young age) understand and express what she was feeling and how to understand my own emotions.
With emotional support, I built myself up, implemented techniques for both myself and my daughter to calm the storm and we both learnt from my mistakes. And for a solid handful of months, things were okay. Then another situation arose – a positive one this time. I met my soon to be husband and life just fell into place.
He helped ease the fears, the paranoia I had of failing into and introduced a calm, both my daughter and I needed. Anxiety improved, emotions settled and turned positive, and we could all breathe a little easier. We moved in together, built a life and had a baby. We grew as parents and partners together and I applied what I knew from my daughter onto my son. It wasn’t without its issues or situations. We weren’t perfect, but it worked, and we grew as a family emotionally. Then the third major situation happened three years later. My husband and I split briefly.
The difference this time was that I was armed with knowledge. As much as I wanted to stay in the ball on the floor, I had two children and my mental state to look after. I knew how to handle anxiety and our fears. I didn’t let that little voice in the back of mind win. I was honest with my children – as much as their age allowed me to be. I also sugar coated it like it was broccoli being forced at dinner. It is what we do as parents right? Try to hide the scary nature of the world from our children. But what we seem to forget is that they are frighteningly intuitive. My daughter called me out within three days. She knew what was happening and due to the techniques she had grown up with, she was a lot calmer and understanding than what I believed her to be. Honestly, the tides turned, and she became my strength. Three years on, due to the techniques I learnt over time – breathing, communication, recognising emotions and expressing thoughts and fear – I am happy to say that we have never been stronger as a family.
Knowledge really is key to supporting strong emotional health.
Stressful situations don’t have to be the big things like separation, new family members or even your child going from primary school to high school. It can be the little everyday things like not having enough time, trying to juggle home and work life balance and even social obligations – or at the moment, the stress of the current COVID-19 situation. As adults, we are pretty adapted to dealing and handling the changes of a situation – be them little or big – and we have learnt to regroup and re-plan accordingly. We know that these smaller situations have a nasty way of dripping down to create a larger situation and suddenly, we are back on the kitchen floor screaming. So how can we help?
ParentalEQ BackPack App is like a pocket professional guide created to help you navigate those tricky situations that may arise with being a parent and the surrounding situations. We offer easy to follow resources, with both audio for on-the-go moments and activities you can enjoy with your children in the comfort of your own home. We can help you understand those emotional situations and back you up to ease through your children’s emotional inner workings. We have a little tidbit for any situation – big or small. With all the uncertainty in the air surrounding these situations, let us be the support you may need.
ParentalEQ Parenting BackPack App is available to download from your favourite app store.
Sheer visceral experience scribed by Casey Luxford