Releasing Emotions Holding You Back
by Kathy Slattengren, M. Ed., Priceless Parenting (sign up for monthly parenting newsletter and receive 20+ printable charts for kids and parents)
Emotions are a powerful source of information and inspiration. Fear can spring you into action when danger is near. Love can give you the courage to stand up for someone. Anger can inspire you to fight to change something that isn’t right.
When Emotions Get Stuck and Hold You Back
Emotions start causing problems when they get in your way of success. This can happen when you experience something negative and you unconsciously decide to make sure that never happens again.
Have you noticed your kids being held back by their emotions? In the following stories, kids are being negatively affected by their strong, persistent feelings.
loved playing baseball and was good at it. One day he was up to bat he got hit hard by the pitcher’s ball. He immediately went down in pain but eventually recovered enough to take first base and finish the game. From then on he found various excuses for missing practice and not playing baseball.
knew she was prepared to take the science test. She had studied all week plus done well on all the homework. However, when she sat down to take the test, her mind went blank.
enjoyed going to school and being with his friends. However, lately he had come to dread being at school. Another boy had decided to start picking on Mason. Every day he had a new way to make Mason feel terrible. Soon Mason was making up excuses about being too sick to go to school but was too ashamed to tell his parents the real reason he didn’t want to go to school.
was having fun learning to swim. During one lesson the instructor had the class swim across the pool without touching the wall. Part way through Chris panicked and ended up grabbing the wall. He felt embarrassed as all the other kids made it across the pool without stopping. When it was time to go to the next lesson, Chris refused to get in the car. Eventually his mom cajoled him into getting in the car but when they got to the pool Chris refused to get in water.
Helping Kids through Their Difficult Emotions
All the kids in these stories had emotional forces influencing their behavior. When emotions are at the root of behavior, it doesn’t work well to try to use reasoning. For example, trying to reassure a child by saying “You’ve studied hard. I’m sure you’ll do fine on the test.” is not likely to help. Nor will it be helpful to tell Chris "Jump in! You're great at swimming."
So if reassuring and reasoning won’t work well, what can you do to help your child overcome their fear or anxiety? One thing that has helped both adults and kids is a process called tapping. Tapping combines acknowledging feelings and the reasons behind those feelings along with permission to feel safe and loved in the present moment.
You tap gently on various points in your body while talking through your feelings. While the first time you hear about tapping it may sound ridiculous, it actually has helped lots of people!
Major league athletes use tapping to improve their game performance. Dr. Erin Shannon works with professional baseball and football players both prior to games and during games. In order to do their best in a game, they use tapping to quickly release any fear of getting hurt or distress from situations at home that are distracting them from the game.
To see what tapping might look like with kids, watch this video of Brad Yates walking a girl through tapping on anger. Yates is using general descriptions of anger in this video, however the words could easily be changed for a specific situation that is causing the anger.