As parents our first job is to love our kids. But what happens when love is not enough? When we welcome that first (or second, or third) bundle of joy into our family, we have hopes and dreams for the adults they will become, how their lives will be better, how we’ll be able to spoil all the grandkids they’re going to give us!! What happens when things don’t go as planned? (like getting anything resembling sleep in those first few weeks/months!!)
We can prepare our children for the natural ups and downs that are a part of every family’s experience by strengthening the protective factors that contribute to individual and family resilience in the face of transition and change. The Center for Study of Social Policy (CSSP) at the University of Chicago found five main protective factors that contribute to strong families and strong communities.
Chief among these factors is building the social emotional competence of children. Change and transition involve high levels of emotion, both positive and negative. Depending on age and developmental level, our children have varying capabilities to manage their emotions successfully during times of high stress. If we’re being really honest, adults have a hard time managing emotions during times of high stress!!! Understanding, teaching and role modeling emotional regulation is critical to strengthening kids protective “muscle.” (click here a previous post about emotions.)
At the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, they developed an emotional literacy/emotional intelligence program using the “RULER” acronym. RULER identifies the emotional skills necessary to increasing the emotional literacy in children.
· Recognizing emotions – how well do children recognize verbally, visually, and physiologically, the emotions of themselves and others
· Understanding emotions – do they understand not only what they’re feeling but how what they are feeling influences their actions
· Labeling emotions – this involves having wider emotional vocabulary beyond “happy,” “sad,” and “mad.”
· Expressing emotions – how do they express their emotions, positively, using all their senses.
· Regulating emotions – how do they know the best ways to use (or not use) their emotions.
Research and our personal experiences reinforce that when children are able to manage their emotions well they are less likely to be bullied, more likely to have higher self esteem, higher academic achievement, and increased overall well being.
No parent should move without a written game plan to help your children deal with the difficulties they face when moving.
For more information about the Moving Families Initative, please visit www.movingfamiliesinitiative.com.