119. Tolerating tough emotions in our kids (and ourselves)

I want to run through the steps of teaching your kids emotional intelligence. And to lay the groundwork for that, let’s take a minute to explore our relationship to uncomfortable emotions. We are conditioned to view certain emotions as acceptable and unacceptable – and this causes us to have a low tolerance for these emotions that show up in ourselves and in our kids. 

Emotional intelligence is important for moms because it helps us to walk them through their own emotions from a more tolerant, accepting, and capable place


Emotional intelligence in our kids

  • We underrate their emotional capacity to observe and internalize the world around them
  • Sometimes we parent the surface level of ‘keeping them happy’ – aka the Hustle for Happiness, Episode 66
  • Happy kids cannot be our parenting goal, it is short-sighted and defeating


Raising kids will emotional intelligence is important because it allows our kids to be:

  1. more mindful of how their emotions are impacting them
  2. less fearful of ‘negative’ emotions
  3. better skilled in healthy coping habits to help them with their tough emotions
  4. better skilled in developing healthy relationships


Emotional intelligence is a whole family experience 

Emotional intelligence is good for the whole family, and it is never too late to get started

We worry that if we allow our kids their emotions that they will act entitled and poorly. Remember, all emotions are acceptable but not all behaviors are acceptable


What emotions are ‘acceptable’?

  • We are conditioned to view certain emotions as acceptable or unacceptable 
  • As moms, we have emotions we view as ‘unacceptable’ for us to feel.
  • But emotions have a purpose, all of them. They have a role to prompt us to take an action.
  • We often take unhealthy actions and reinforce our belief that this emotion is unhealthy.


Tolerating tough emotions in our kids

As moms, we have a low tolerance for certain emotions in our kids. Here are some common ones that the moms I coach struggle to tolerate our kids feeling:

  • Ungratefulness, entitlement, 
  • Anger
  • Disagreement 
  • Overwhelm
  • Sadness, pouting
  • Scared
  • Shy, nervous
  • Boredom

Watch out for the negative emotions we allow our kids to feel, even encourage, because we think they can be used as a form of consequence or punishment: shame, guilt, regret. 

We are teaching our kids which emotions they should turn to in order to motivate their own behaviour changes, and it becomes our inner dialogue in our adult life. 


Answering some of the questions that were sent to me:

  1. Is EI similar to emotional resilience? If emotional resilience is a value of mine how can I incorporate that into everyday life in hopes to help my children to be emotionally resilient?
  2. Can minimalism help our kids have better emotional intelligence? 


Products recommended here may include referral links to Amazon. If you click through and buy something I will be compensated at no cost to you. 


A meal planning pad


  • See my meal planning video in the Facebook community group
  • How I use a meal plan to have ideas and ingredients on hand throughout the week

kid and mom pouting on opposite ends of the couch. Text overlay reads " Tolerating tough emotions in our kids (and ourselves)"

Full transcript

Welcome to the podcast. We are here, spend some time together every week, and simplify your home, your heart and your life. So you can show up for your life with more peace, purpose, presence, and I’m going to throw passion in there because this is your life, and you should enjoy it.

This past week, we’ve been getting outside a lot. I love that the weather is turning. I love the idea of getting outside every day. But I mean, sunshine makes it way easier, right? So we’ve been getting outside the balsamroot flowers are blooming in BC they look like little sunflowers. They’re just my favorite. If you knew I was a bird nerd. You also might know I’m a plant nerd. Not the kind of plants that I kill in my garden. I’m not a gardener. But the plants in nature love those. I don’t have to do anything and they are just growing.

So this past week, Connor and I also went for a little fishing date, we went to a lake that’s really close to town. Okay, I like to fish. But I’m not a fisher woman fishermen. I don’t have any good stories to tell you. I don’t have any advice about lures or tails about the one that got away actually do have a tail about the one that got away. But I am all about floating on a boat with a rod in the water. So we went out to the lake for the first time this season. And Connor had this big plan about this type of fishing he was going to do he brought me my rod. And we forgot some of the things from my rod. Well, he forgot it. I don’t know what to set up a rod – like, that’s his job. I make the lattes, he sets up the fishing rod. Okay, so I didn’t have a rod to fish with. And I thought I’m just gonna sit here and when I read this book on my library app that I’ve been wanting to read, and then my phone died. And now I’m like, Well, now we’re going to be out here for a couple of hours. So I made a little life jacket nest and I just laid there in the sun, staring at the sky and the birds like a bird nerd. And the hard part about this was it’s a busy week for me.

And it took me a lot of mental redirecting in that time just sitting there to not be thinking about all of the things I could be doing right now like the kids are at school, the house is empty. I’ve got stuff to do. So I just put some sunscreen on and I just remind myself, nope, my body needs stillness. I need stillness I need to be unplugged, I need to just stare at trees and sunbeams, this is what I need. I don’t want to be looking at a screen or a mountain of laundry or another Google Doc. Guys, I live in the Google Docs like tell Conor if I die check the Google Docs. Like the banana stand. It’s the Google Docs.

Alright, so today I’m back at it. And we are going to follow up on a previous episode called emotional intelligence 101, where I laid out the four components of emotional intelligence as emotional awareness, emotional self control, personal motivation, and social skills. And I love this topic, I coach on it in every call pretty much because as moms especially, we need to practice this so that we can come at parenting our own kids, men, walking them through their emotions, coaching them through their emotions, from a more tolerant, accepting and capable place. So these next two episodes, are going to be talking about emotional intelligence in kids and how we can walk them through that as parents.

Emotional intelligence in our kids is underrated, probably, there’s so much great research, that’s telling us how important it is. They’re bringing it into school curriculums. Because the reality is our kids are having emotionally complex experiences. They are watching the world, they’re interpreting the world and they’re trying to do things to get their needs met. And I don’t know about you, but I’m often surprised at how aware my kids are, how perceptive they are, how sensitive they are, especially my oldest, he’ll tell me observations he’s having. And I’m like, I kind of think that kids are just naturally unaware. And that they just kind of float under the surface. Maybe I was more of an unaware kid. But we underrate their emotional capacity to observe things and internalize things. And we think that we can just make the right conditions for them to be happy, and then they’re going to just naturally be happy. But we’re parenting from a surface level.

When we do that, we’re parenting on the surface level of just keep them happy. And when sadness comes up, let’s get back to happy and when anger comes up, punish it, and then get back to happy. And I call this the hustle for happiness. If you want to hear about that, that is Episode 66. I will link that in the show notes.

And the idea of raising happy kids is a notion that I blew my own mind with by challenging it. When I realized that happy kids cannot be my goal. I was doing a lot of work to raise happy kids. I was making that my parenting goal and it’s It’s a short sighted goal, and it’s a defeating goal. And it also denies their human experience of feeling feelings. And it denies them permission to have a range of feelings. And it denies me the opportunity and them the opportunity to learn and me to teach how to manage these feelings that all humans will inevitably feel in their life. And we’re training them to be happy all the time. And then they never learn the skills of managing those hard emotions. You know, those emotions that when we get as adults, they feel gross and heavy, and we don’t know what to do with them like regret, or disappointment or loneliness.

So bringing this into their childhood, raising kids with emotional intelligence, means that we are raising kids who are mindful how their emotions can affect them. And this is important because our emotions create our actions. We talked about that in emotional intelligence one on one, bringing in emotional intelligence also helps us raise kids who are not scared to feel certain emotions, like we have been conditioned, that there are negative emotions, you should not feel them, depression, guilt, anger, you should not feel them. And part of our upbringing probably didn’t include a lot of emotional awareness or acceptance in management.

We’re also raising kids who can learn healthier coping skills when big uncomfortable emotions come up. Because without this skill, they become like countless adults, myself included, who turned to unhealthy coping skills to deal with the fields. Anyone else online, midnight shopping, or raiding the pantry and nap time pouring another glass of wine, you get it. Like we’re turning to coping habits that aren’t helping us that aren’t making our lives better.

And overall, when we bring in emotional intelligence, we’re giving kids the tools to have healthier relationships. And that looks like not blaming their emotions on others, not blaming being blind to their role in conflict, being willing to have empathy for others, like that’s a lot of humility, being willing to have the hard conversations that allow for conflict resolution. I mean, just think about bringing these four things into your marriage and how that could just transform that relationship.

So emotional intelligence, I could go on, you get the idea. It’s good. It’s good for the whole family, good for parents, for us as moms how we’re showing up for our kids teaching them through that and it’s never too late to start.

I first heard of emotional intelligence in the book, raising an emotionally intelligent child by john Gottman. And he outlines four parenting approaches to emotions in our kids. This is a previous podcast episode as well, if you want to listen to it, I give a full rundown of that book.

And he outlines the dismissing parent, someone who says you’re okay or distracts them, or it’s not that bad. Or Come on, let’s keep going or tickling them trying to just move it along, you know, you’re fine. Let’s keep going.

The disapproving parent, this is a parent who might discipline the emotions that their kids are having criticized what they’re feeling, you shouldn’t be feeling that or go to your room, these kinds of things.

The laid back parents, the one who just kind of lets them sort it out. They don’t really come in with any guidance or limits.

And then there’s the fourth type, the emotion coach, they step in, they walk them through it with empathy, and firmness.

And if you’re wondering, like I was when you heard about this, if I allow my kids to have negative emotions, won’t they just act like a jerk or an entitled brat? That was my biggest fear when I heard about this. And here’s the model, I want you to write on a post it note, put it on your fridge. Here’s just one thing I want you to take away from everything I’m going to say right now, all emotions are acceptable. But not all behaviors are acceptable.

And this is hard for us. Because I think many of us probably were raised, definitely conditioned to believe that there are emotions that are unacceptable. And as moms we have emotions in ourselves, so we find unacceptable. I used to think that anger was an acceptable, I saw it as a loss of rationale, a loss of self control, and I conditioned myself to ignore it, resist it be as neutral as possible caused a lot of problems for me.

Because emotions have a purpose. Friends, emotions have a role in our bodies in our lives. They’re made for a reason. They’re here to prompt us to take an action. And when we don’t stop to listen to the emotion and to think about what sort of healthy action that this emotion might be promoting us towards. Then we’re just going to consider this whole thing, an unhealthy experience. We’re going to resist it, ignore it, get out and get all stressed out about it. And doing that just reinforces our belief that this emotion is unhealthy. Because when I feel it, I act in unhealthy ways. So let’s just keep avoiding that emotion right.

Consider the feelings that come up for you that you hate feeling. Chances are very high that you have a low tolerance for them and your kids as well.

Most of the moms I coach have a low tolerance for some of these emotions, I’m going to –  I wrote them out, I’m going to outline them for you

Ungratefulness or a kid being disappointed, we think that they’re acting entitled, they’re not grateful enough.

Anger. And anger is a hard one. Because anger is considered a secondary emotion. It’s the tip of the iceberg. There’s always something else underneath there.

We have problems and low tolerance when our kids disagree when they have the emotion of disagreement towards us at us. We have a very low tolerance for that we often view it as disrespect, in some form.

Overwhelm, when you have a kid who can’t make a decision, and they’re spinning and they’re distracted.

We have have a low tolerance for that sadness, especially or the things we don’t think our kids should be sad about. I’m going to put coding in this category too.

We have low tolerance, sometimes for our kids feeling scared, we don’t, we just don’t want them to be scared. And often our solution is to just tell them, don’t be scared. It’s not an effective solution. But it’s kind of really our gut reaction.

Sometimes we have a low tolerance for our kids feeling shy or nervous.

Sometimes we have a low tolerance for our kids being bored. We think that this is part of entitlement or ungratefulness, right.

And I go through this list, and I’m with you guys on there, like there are hard emotions to tolerate in our kids. And so often we start to take on those emotions as well. When they’re feeling that way, we start to express those emotions as well. It’s called mirroring. It is a scientific phenomenon. But ultimately, we start acting, how they’re acting.

And the saddest part is we will make space for them to feel some certain negative emotions that we think serve some kind of purpose in our parenting. Often, those are shame, and guilt, and regret, and we almost Stoke those fires, we almost stoke the fires of those emotions, and use them as a form of consequence or punishment. We use them to motivate our kids to change their behavior.

And my personal theory is that when we are told to avoid all these normal emotions like sadness, overwhelm, fear and so on, maybe we’re even punished for them. But our parents have used shame or guilt to motivate our behavior, then we become adults who are returning to these same emotional cycles, same inner dialogue to motivate ourselves. And we know that shame and guilt and regret can be effective in motivating us like Unfortunately, it does work. Because we really hate that feeling. And we hate feeling it from our parental figures.

But to have this as your your fuel source, and getting things done in your life will be exhausting, and defeating and in all of my coaching I’ve seen it slowly strips away the truth in the light of who you are.

In the next episode, I’m going to give you the steps that we can use to raise emotionally intelligent children. But I wanted to open up with this intro, just talking about the importance of emotional intelligence, it isn’t all woowoo and feel your feelings. This serves a purpose in creating better lives for us in helping us handle our lives in a better way. Because I see it all the time I coach on it all the time, I live it in my own heart in my own life. So I really wanted to open it up with part one and we’re gonna lead into Part Two next.

Before I go though, I will answer a couple of the questions that were submitted to me.

The first one is is emotional intelligence similar to emotional resilience. If emotional resilience is a value of mine, how can I incorporate that into everyday life, in hopes to help my children to be more emotionally resilient?

So emotional intelligence will help you be more emotionally resilient. Resilience is that ability to move through and move on from challenging times. It involves things like how we motivate ourselves, how we process our emotions, how we come at our future and our circumstances with emotional self control and empathy. And I really think it’s important to learn this. Otherwise, resilience might take the bend of just steamrolling yourself and steamrolling your feelings and plowing through life, rather than acknowledging the emotional experience you’re having, learning from it and growing in it, to bring this into your daily life into conversations with your kids, it’s going to be up to your kids, if they want to adopt emotional resilience, but you can still offer it to them. And a way that I might try to do that depending on how old your kids are, is to talk about regularly what challenges you had that day and what you did about them. And really honoring and having compassion for yourself. When you were working with challenging emotions and showcasing that. This is hard for me and I I empathize with that. And maybe I use these coping mechanisms to help me win. I’m upset or sad. And this is what I want to think about it. And this is how I want to move forward. 

So I would have those conversations regularly. Our kids need to see that we are people too. They are learning so much just by watching us. Unfortunately, the same is true, more is caught than taught. They are watching us more than they’re listening to us. Really.

The second question is can minimalism help our kids have a better emotional intelligence?

And I think emotional intelligence can just be applied to all areas of your life anywhere, you’re having emotions. So what I’ve seen in my own decluttering, and doing it with my kids, is I would say that emotional intelligence is brought into the process of decluttering and minimalism, by being mindful, like, how does your space make you feel? If you’re talking to your kids? How does your room make you feel? How do you want to feel in it? How do you feel about letting things go? Like, how do you feel about getting rid of these things? Or what are you not using anymore, because emotions is the major hurdle in adults decluttering, the fear, the scarcity, the guilt, the overwhelm.

And ultimately, the purpose of minimalism is to allow you to keep in your life, the things that are a beauty, a value of use to you. They’re things that are more authentically you, it teaches you who you are really what you want in your life. And being mindful of how you were feeling through that process, motivating yourself through that process of decluttering. With what you do want, then you’re using emotional intelligence to edit your home and create a home you love to be in. So it’s just a tool you can bring into the process as you go through the decluttering process in the editing process of your home.

So head on over when you’re ready to the next episode, I’m going to outline the five steps of emotional intelligence that you’re going to walk through with your kids. And I’m taking it from john, john Gottman his work.

But let’s wrap up with something a little bit fun, a simple pleasure. I’m going to do a simple pleasure twice this week, I missed last week. So the simple pleasure I want to share with you in this episode is a meal planning pad. And I’m a huge fan of meal planning, I started meal planning when I had my first kid 10 years ago. And I thought I just need a plan. So I’m not eating ketchup chips over the sink and feeding everyone toast at 6pm every night. So I started meal planning, it’s nothing that I make myself stick to rigidly but to buy the ingredients to have them on hand to know what I can go to. And to just pick from this list. It makes my life so much easier. And we did it a few ways over the years, we didn’t always use this like little pad that has the weeks and all the ideas we’re going to eat. And there’s a spot to put lunches and that I’m going to link that in the show notes. We didn’t always use that. We were writing it on chalkboard on the in the hallway, I was just writing it on something and putting it on the fridge. So do it any way you like. But I really like this meal pad because it’s it’s fun, it sticks to the fridge and I can just rip off the next sheet and use the other side of the old sheet for a grocery list. So I’d I just have one all the time. I have like a stockpile in my office. And I just think they’re fun and simple. And I don’t know when you have to do these chores and these things and organizing your way. It’s just sometimes fun to have something that’s pretty and practical that you can bring into the process.

Alright guys, head on over to the next episode. Whenever you’re ready.

Leave a comment