I may not look like an athlete or coach but that is my role with kids.
As a trauma-informed child care counselor and music specialist, I provide emotional exercise to bring relief and lift the spirits of our Covid-19 stressed out kids.
Crushing it as Kids Entertainer and Educator Mr Rayz just makes it look easy. But like any athlete or coach I have had years of emotional training and "conditioning" so my heart knows how to "emotionally exercise" in a (mostly ) healthy way. But even as an EQ athlete & "heart coach" the work is never done.
In order for me to stay in great emotional shape I am always working on my stuff.
And life gets to be the emotional "crossfit" that just never seems to take a day off!
On my worst days I struggle with grief induced "hamstrings", a way too energized and over productive amygdala and other types of "heart pain and strains". When my brain based illness - bipolar affective disorder (bp)flares up and starts colouring my moods, I have strategies to emotionally self regulate.
I become laser-focused on my bp triggers to start the heavy lifting of a stoic self care regime. My grey matter in my brain has since developed new synapses so I can get my thoughts online and steer my emotions better into recovery. Deep breath work, mindfulness, peer support, diet, exercise and a good medication cocktail all play a part in keeping me emotionally fit and heart strong.
But the biggest secret weapon I have in my arsenal is music.
Because you can't really sing without becoming emotionally involved.
And you don't even need to sing. But just listening to the mood of the music, dancing, moving, humming or chanting can lift, shield, blanket and comfort our spirits and emotions like nothing else can.
Now here are my tips on how to help your children emotionally self regulate with and without music:
- Stay present with them. Just sitting with them and not freaking out while they are crying, raging, celebrating gives your child permission to feel what they feel. Sometimes this involves hugging, holding hands, listening to them. I put my hand behind each of my three kids heads when I hug them. It is Dad's soothing touch. Its stamped as an emotional memory for them that when I hold them close and rub the back of their heads that I am here, they are valued and they are welcomed and loved
- Give them language for what they are feeling. This is not the time to play 20 questions and confuse them. This is a time to listen and validate and help them clarify what their hearts are telling them.
"That sounds pretty frustrating"
"I'd feel sad too if that happened to me. Does that sound right?"
"What does your body feel like now? Is it tight like an elastic band being stretched? Or is it just feel like all the wind has been taken out of you like you are a deflated balloon?"
"Boy that's not a nice feeling isn't it? Tell me more about this!"
- Let them dictate how they wanna process this. My middle daughter who is 12 is an introvert and processes things deeply. She's not always touchy feely ( like her extrovert huggy dad). So I give her space. Wait for her to approach me for a hug---when its safe for HER to do so.
Then maybe give them options: you want to do art and draw out what you are feeling? Maybe there's a song or story we can write about this? Do you have any songs you wanna listen to that might make you feel better?"
In the end, more than the music, words or even hugs, it is your presence that brings healing and helps your child emotionally self regulate. You dispel the overwhelm and sea of emotions with a loving, affirming presence that they are not alone. Your belief in them gives them courage to handle the big heavy feelings of sadness, rage and sometimes even overwhelming joy that makes them want to scream out loud all day ( irritating their siblings and neighbours of course). They gain self awareness and can then learn to self regulate and "emotionally exercise" how they feel in healthy ways.
Teaching, helping, loving and guiding our children through their heavy emotions makes them resilient and builds a strength in them to become their own emotional athlete and EQ champion.
And that's what every EQ coach wants.
Raymond Van Gobel - Mr Rayz is a kids entertainer, music educator and heart song specialist. Children's mental health is his number one concern. He brings relief to kids and lifts up their spirits with songs that soothe, teach and bring joy. His goal is to help kids create songs that they can wear as a shield or a blanket to protect and comfort them in their growing emotional journey.
Presently he is developing a show "Mr Rayz and the Cuddlebuddies" with Vulcan TV Global and is the all new kids host for Lilacfest, Sunfest and Marda Gras in Calgary. Catch him FB LIVE every Weds 8am MST, support his work patreon.com/mrrayz - IG @mrrayz