Is emotional security drip fed through the bloodline. Or can we break the cycle?

Imagine a world where our children are taught coping skills from an early age? Think about that for a minute. What would it look like for our children? What would it look like for their adolescence and adulthood? How would it impact their relationships, careers and parenting?

Most everyone I know, in my age group and older, comes from the school of ‘you’re ok’, ‘don’t worry’, ‘don’t cry’ and ‘chin up’.

That’s just what our parents knew, right? It’s what was modelled to them and how they showed their support. They were protecting us. Telling us it was all going to be ok. It came from a place of love.

But the reality is that those words did very little to actually address the issues we may have experienced as children and teens. It likely means that for many of us, we have had to learn coping skills well into our adulthood, perhaps in the middle of relationships and even as parents. The words ‘uphill battle’ spring to mind. And some of us may not have realised quite yet that we are all in need of such coping skills to live a happy and well-balanced life.

In today’s world we are becoming more and more comfortable with the once taboo subject of mental health. It’s becoming less a stigma and more a sign of true strength through vulnerability, to stand up and say that you are not ok. It feels more a go-to subject, and very topical, these days as opposed to a source of shame. And this is a good thing right? This is what moves societies in the right direction. Forward-thinking at it’s finest….or is it?

While our ability to talk so openly about mental health struggles and issues around coping is positive and even empowering, what we are really doing is sounding the alarm to the issues we are facing; and then racing as best we can to learn and implement the coping skills that we now realise we need. So, yes, it is positive that we now live in a society more open to this process. But it still begs the question, what would the world be like today had our generation been taught these coping skills much earlier on?

The conversations around mental health feel progressive and they are, but the truth is that this topic is still in its infancy. We’re talking more than ever about mental health awareness and the consequences and impact on current generations, but we haven’t yet begun to really talk about preventative measures – coping strategies – being implemented at a young age.

Most of us can now understand and rationalise that every behaviour comes from somewhere. The most common sources of emotional and mental decline stem from anxiety, depression, shame, guilt, fear and loneliness. What is apparent now is that these cognitive experiences cannot be eradicated. They are built into the human condition as our brain’s way of responding to experience. And they certainly do not disappear with ‘don’t worry, it will all be ok’. While we can’t just erase these basic human emotions, we absolutely can learn and enact healthy coping strategies to manage them when they arise.

When recently speaking to a close friend about this topic, he shared some brilliant insight with me.

‘Teaching kids how to open up and how to talk to people is so important. I remember being a kid and struggling through. I never believed my mum when she said it was going to be ok. That almost wasn’t enough, because it was the inside stuff that was causing torment. 
Emotional security is drip fed through the bloodline. It just keeps going, doesn’t it? Unless you stop it. Unless you take charge of understanding your kids and their feelings. Only then can you help them to build healthy coping strategies. (-anonymous)

So, from where I’m sitting, I see this as our opportunity, for parents especially. In a world where talking about our feelings is becoming more acceptable, this is our chance to dial in and connect with our children. This is our chance to work with them on recognising and naming these emotions and where they might be coming from, regulating together to manage the big emotions and then returning back to the moment with a healthier view around tough emotions.

So, let’s not just imagine a world where children are taught coping skills from an early age. Let’s put it fully into practice. Let’s lead and guide our children through their emotional ups and downs and help them learn how to self-regulate. What does our world have in store with a pack of 2020 and 2030 kids who were told ‘hey it’s ok to feel this way, let’s work through this together’?!

#mentalhealthawareness #raisingresilience #mentalhealth #copingstrategies #RecogniseRegulateReturn

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