Parenting Tip: Kids Feelings and How to Manage
Kids feelings: Mad, sad, glad, and afraid-I often refer to these as The Big Four! Processing feelings is healthy, I recommend it highly. Here’s why:
Kids Feelings: Mad Happens
Let’s start here, this is the feeling that scares everyone. I’m always amazed at the number of people that think being mad and/or angry is always negative. Did you know that if you don’t allow yourself or your child to feel this feeling it can lead to depression? It’s how you handle or behave while being angry that is important.
Getting angry and saying hurtful things or hitting a wall are not healthy ways to release anger. Some healthy ways to redirect your anger include taking a walk, punching a punching bag or simply taking the time to cool down! It’s not the “mad feeling” that’s bad – it’s the behavior. That’s why anger management programs exist!
Kids Feelings: Sadness is Part of Life
Maybe a loved one died recently, or there’s been a divorce. There are many reasons to feel sad. I find too many times that we don’t want to admit we’re “sad.” Being sad and sadness are also very healthy feelings. For a child, it helps them to develop empathy which shouldn’t be shut down by telling them “there’s no reason to be sad,” or the don’t be message, “don’t be sad, everything is okay.” Sometimes everything is not okay and it’s okay to be sad.
Remember: Anger or sadness is a by-product of not getting what you want. Honor the feeling.
Kids Feelings: I’m Afraid
Feeling “afraid” is what keeps us from walking into traffic, or touching a hot stove. Afraid when there’s a divorce because life will change. Being afraid is not a weakness; being afraid in certain situations is a good thing. Encourage your child to speak their truth about their fears with you, it’s being humble and that can bring you closer. One caution – you want to do this safely, one-on-one and keep it confidential.
Kids Feelings: Oh So Happy
“Glad” it’s the easy one! It’s a good feeling and for the most part, an emotion that isn’t criticized or questioned. Typically it’s associated with something positive and being happy. Good grades on a report card. Taking a vacation to the beach!
It’s possible a child is “glad” his parents are getting a divorce because they yelled and screamed at each other all the time. Honor the feeling.
Self-actualization – setting a goal and achieving it brings JOY a by-product of getting what you want.
Kids Feelings: The Big Four-Mad, Sad, Glad, and Afraid
There are times when you or your child may feel all of these feelings at the same time. Let me give you a recent example from a troubled young man I’m working with in The Quest Project®.
“I’ve started smoking pot. I’m glad because it numbs me out and I like the way it makes me feel. I feel afraid when I think about my mom and dad finding out about it. I’m mad at them for not spending any time with me, and sad things have gotten so out of hand.”
Do you know what I say about that? Good – you have a right to feel mad, sad, glad, and afraid – and there’s nothing wrong with any of those feelings. Ultimately he is validated/acknowledged by being witnessed.
Do you allow yourself, and your child to feel their feelings?