Today I processed a lot of emotions. At one point I was anxious, another joyful. Later in the day I was tired followed by irritated and then not too long after encouraged. I would venture to guess you, too, processed a lot of different emotions today. As adults we do it without thinking, channeling our anger into something productive and sharing our joy through actions. It’s easy for us to accept, acknowledge and continue on with our feelings.
It’s not as easy for our children.
They struggle understanding why they are feeling a certain way and what to do about it. They struggle naming their emotions and possibly voicing them at all. Emotions are complicated.
If we allow ourselves – grown adults with coping mechanisms – to have a bad day and sometimes submit to our emotions, then we should also allow our children the same. Too often we scold children for their bad days, implying to them their emotions are wrong or invalid.
By dismissing our children’s feelings, they will never learn to accept them, work through and in them. We have to allow children their feelings, validating and encouraging them. By allowing our children their feelings, we are stimulating growth as well as teaching important life skills.
Bond with your child over emotions by talking through them. Use words they understand and explain times you, too, felt a similar way. Children respond to knowing you have encountered a similar feeling or situation. Children respond to being heard and feeling understood.
So much is out of our children’s control and it is our responsibility as parents to ease that burden, not increase it. Teach your children about their emotions and give them back a piece of that control. Demonstrate appropriate responses to emotions and fill your child’s strategy tool box with positive ways to respond to how they’re feeling.
As adults it’s sometimes easier to speak for our child, tell them it’ll be ok and brush over their feelings, but in doing so we are setting them up for failure. When we allow our children their feelings, we are validating our child, reminding them that they matter and we care.
Stifling this growth process will follow our children into their adulthood. We must allow our children their feelings as children so they know how to handle them as adults.