How to create your ideal emotional climate at home

How to create your ideal emotional climate at home

Do you envy those families who seem to be harmonious all the time and wonder how you can also create your ideal emotional climate at home? Well, this begins with agreeing what are the feelings that are important to everyone in the family! This can be a relaxed and enriching experience involving your children by creating your family emotional charter together! After all, when you have their buy-in, it is more likely they will follow the rules!

Family Emotional Charter

I first learnt about the emotional charter from Dr. Marc Brackett and simply love the idea! So, why do you need a family emotional charter?

  • Do you want to teach your child on the importance of feelings and respect towards one another’s feelings?
  • Do you wonder if you are meeting your child’s emotional needs?
  • Or, do you wish your child could understand how you feel?
  • Is there a high level of tension or arguments that break out at home?
  • Do you wish to create your ideal emotional climate at home?

Purpose of the Family Emotional Charter

In a Family Emotional Charter, the family come together to brainstorm and construct their own family charter. The purpose of the charter is to create the ideal emotional climate that the family wishes to experience together. Once constructed, the charter would help the family to:

  • Identify the key feelings that are important to them to experience as a family
  • Guide the behaviours as the family becomes mindful of choosing the behaviours or words that will help them to uphold the family charter
  • Empowers one to call out an unacceptable behaviour by pointing the feeling in the Family Charter that’s been violated or compromised, and gives opportunity to resolve any conflict
  • Hence, creating your ideal emotional climate!

How to Create your Family Emotional Charter

So, last weekend, I finally got down to getting everyone come together to create our family emotional charter! I have modified Dr. Marc’s charter to a simpler version that I find more practical for my family. So here it is!

  1. Each family member reflects and writes down the top 3-4 feelings they love to experience together as a family
  2. We then come together to write them on a visual board (the boys took the lead to write them out for us!)
  3. Everyone gets to clarify the meaning of the word on the board, or if the word is indeed a feeling word. However, no one is allowed to ask why the feeling is important to have for that person! This is key as all feelings are important.
  4. Everyone then discuss and vote on the top 3 feelings that are most important to experience as a family. We all can share our views, but ultimately this has to be an unanimous vote!
  5. The children then design the charter to include the agreed feelings in to the charter.
  6. Each family member signs and commits to uphold the charter!
  7. We also discuss how we would enforce the charter if someone is not adhering to it.

It’s been a week since we did the Family Emotional Charter and I have to say it has been working out pretty well so far! There seems to be lesser or shorter episodes of conflicts, especially between the boys!

Why your child doesn’t think or act rationally?

Why your child doesn’t think or act rationally?

Why can't my child be more rational???
Why can’t my child be more rational???

Do you often wonder why your child don’t think or act rationally?

Do you feel frustrated that you don’t understand why your child don’t listen even after you told them multiple times?

Does your child have frequent emotional meltdown or unable to express their feelings?

Why does your child not seem to absorb what their teachers are saying?

Why does your teenager do such “immature” thing?

Wish your child can “think” what’s the right thing to do?

How is it other people’s kids seem so much easier to parent?

The Upstairs and Downstairs Brain

I really love how Dr. Siegel explains our brain development using simple metaphors of the upstairs and downstairs inside a house. 

(1) Our brain develops from downstairs to upstairs. 

(2) Our downstairs brain comprises brain stem and the limbic region, which are located in the lower pars of the brain. The downstairs brain is responsible for basic functions (like breathing & blinking), for fight and flight reactions, and strong emotions (anger, fear) and movement (like flinching from pain or surprise).  This is WELL-DEVELOPED even at birth.

(3) Our upstairs brain comprises the cerebral cortex including he middle pre-frontal cortex. The upstairs brain is responsible for thinking, imagining, planning and this is where we use this part of the brain for sound decision making and planning, control over emotions and body, empathy, morality, etc.

(4) For our child (and us!) to function optimally, we want our upstairs and downstairs brain to integrate well.

This is why our child doesn’t think or act rationally!

I was shocked when I found out that our upstairs brain only begin to develop at the age of around 8-10 years old and does not fully develop until 18-22 years old! In fact, some recent research showed that some people’s upstairs brain does not develop until age of 30 years old!

But, I guess this fact makes a lot of sense after I know, particularly when it comes to making sense of children or teenager’s behaviours. And, perhaps even my behaviours when I was young! So, the next time you judge a child’s behaviour, bear in mind this fact that their brain is simply not fully developed yet to perform all the higher cognitive functions!

What does this mean for parenting our child?

Now that we learn and accept this fact, we know even more importantly that we play a super important role in parenting. We are the BEST role model for our children, and we can improve our own communication and decision making skills especially in front of our children so that they can in turn learn from the best teacher in the world!

Keen to explore more new skills to be an even better teacher to your child? Check out my upcoming Emotion Coaching workshop for Parents!