I don't hide my sadness from my children.
Can that make them feel uncomfortable? Sure. It is off-putting when anyone is emoting - especially parents who are often stable and calm.
To help them through this discomfort, my husband and I teach them how to soothe someone who is feeling low.
The messaging is clear "it's not your job to make mummy feel better, but, we can soothe her while her emotions make their way through". We then ask them if they would like to give a hug, have a snuggle, or give a soft a blanket or stuffy.
Doing this gives them tools to handle not only our emotions, but their friends, classmates, and other adults that they encounter.
It also teaches them that feelings are normal, and the method of handling them is to feel them, and take care of yourself through the process.
Today? Well, I was feeling sad because my father-in-law had died, and I just really wanted to see him. My eldest brought me a stuffy, and the twins followed suit with every plush animal in the house.
But also such a relief. It is easier NOT to pretend to be calm and strong all the time.
And for my kids? They learn that emotions are normal. They learn how to react lovingly to other people when they are low. This type of response is then normalized, and, hopefully played out in the schoolyard.
If this isn't an antidote to bullying, I'm not sure what is!
Kathleen is an anti-bullying specialist, a conflict coach, a teacher, mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend...