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You are the Model Your Kids Need!

My wife and I had just parked the car and were putting our little girl into a front-pack carrier on our way to the last Mariners game of the season. As we locked the doors and walked away, we both paused and looked at each other, both wondering why neither was holding the diaper bag. "Did you grab the..." we said in unison. But as we spoke, we both realized that it was still sitting by the door at home, all packed and ready to go. I instantly felt deflated, not only because of my disappointment that the M's had no chance left of making the playoffs, but because I now knew that taking care of our child during this game had just become a little bit trickier. I knew that, even at a very young age, my daughter would be watching these moments to see how I react, and to feel assured that everything would be ok despite the challenges.

As parents, we all face these situations daily, and they all shape our children's emotional resiliency. How do we pull ourselves out of these quick moments of frustration to model emotional awareness, validation, and management? The good news is this: by trying, even if you fall short, you are modeling emotional intelligence for your children.

As your child's premier attachment figures, the behavior you model is shown to promote your child's character development, decision making, and relationship building skills more than anything else. Consider these points of reflection as you become the best model you can be:

- Do I give myself the space and tools to reflect on my own emotional reactions? - Do I give myself the time I need to care for myself, resulting in greater self-love and less self-pity or false humility?

- How do I show love to myself, even through the mistakes I make?

- Have I practiced how to properly validate my children when they struggle, instead of taking the struggle away from them or forcing them to move on?

- What are my tricks to help myself calm down in heated moments? Do I model taking deep breaths, taking a break, asking for help, etc.?

Take a moment at dinner today to slow down, turn off all distractions, and reflect on these questions either with yourself or your loved ones. You accomplish this as consistently as possible, and you won't need any other parenting tricks. You are the model that your children need!

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