Being a parent can be very challenging, and it’s easy to get carried away with your own emotions when you’re stressed, worried, or upset. Emotions are not a bad thing; in fact, it’s part of what makes us human. The opportunity you have as a parent is to show your child how to experience those feelings without letting the emotion control your response. We love this emotion wheel that helps you check in with yourself to put a word (or words) to what you’re feeling. We also think parents can benefit from practicing mindfulness, using grounding techniques when overly stressed, or using writing and art as a way to express emotion and work through feelings.
Emotion management is a critical part of preventing sexual abuse for two clear reasons:
Sexual abuse is more often a factor when a child experienced multiple Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). This means that a child who has experienced multiple ACEs may have been sexually abused as one of those adverse experiences. On the other hand, it also accounts for a child who experienced multiple ACEs and then sexually abused someone else (either in youth or adulthood). As the stability of the home environment increases, the risk of child sexual abuse decreases.
Impulsive behaviors may be the result of a lack of emotion management. While it’s difficult to identify the exact reasons someone chooses to engage in sexually abusive behavior, there is an indication that, in some instances, it is impulsive. As you practice emotional regulation and demonstrate that example to your children, their ability to manage their own emotional responses increases, reducing the likelihood that they will engage in harmful impulsive behaviors, including sexually harming someone else.
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