Jump to content


How to teach our kids to handle their emotions

Recommended Posts

In light of all the threads lately on "sucking it up" emotionally and not sharing everything during a simple greeting, how should we teach our kids to handle their emotions? I don't like the stuffing it in and hiding it scenario that my parents practiced and taught. But at the same time, I don't want my kids to be using their emotions to manipulate others or to be too emotionally fragile or volatile. I don't want them to feel like it's ok to attack themselves ("I'm so stupid!") or to attack others ("He's an idiot".) There must be a healthy balance somewhere.

Edited by Jean in Newcastle
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd have to really think about this to answer correctly, but I can tell you that I've been under TREMENDOUS stress and dd7 has decided to play ALL her games during this time, and dd11 is tired of the stress and has breaking down lately. I told her that when she sees that I'm at the end of my rope, she needs to take her emotions to her room or ANYWHERE away from me. I lost it with her on Friday. I hate it when I yell at her. She's SUCH a great kid. :sad:


Because I was at the end of my rope and didn't want to be nasty, I kept my distance today. My family knows when I really need to decompress, they really need to give me my space. Maybe the will learn to do the same one day. I think it's better to take time to yourself to work through things than to drag everyone into it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We discourage negative 'self-talk' like I'm so stupid. Even if the kid made a silly mistake, it eventually becomes a habit and not a good one.


When my DD is upset, we suggested that she take several breaths and let them out slowly. Which is good for mad, sad, hurt etc.


We also try not to take on someone else's emotions. Child is upset. Don't get upset with them. Instead we say something like 'I see you are upset, when you calm down and want to talk, then we will'.


It is difficult in the middle of some emotional turmoil to come up with ideas and solutions, so it is good to be thinking about these ahead of time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh, I am so :bigear: on this one!


Dd7 is a living bundle of emotions with a very thin coat of clear polyurethane over them. (Utter transparency) It used to drive me almost insane until I realized that she wasn't putting them on, God gave her this . . . aspect of her personality - for lack of a better term - for a good purpose, and my job was simply to guide her into using them in a positive way.


I'm still trying to figure out that way. Now, she just drives me almost batty occasionally. :)


We've worked on controlling her emotions instead of letting them control her: deep, slow breaths, trying to stop sobbing. We've worked on taking a break and running around the cul-de-sac in order to come back in and tackle the situation with a fresh mind-set. We've worked on putting herself in the other person's place - the "Do unto others" bit. We've talked about how Satan will lie to you about being worthless/useless/not good at anything and how we can't believe that when we know the truth of God's love and purpose. We've talked and talked and talked . . . and will continue, I'm sure!


Blessedly, she's a pretty open, happy, generous soul who is up more than she's down. At least right now. But she's got depression in her family tree and I worry about her in the future.


Definitely :bigear:


Mama Anna

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well... when mine were younger I would have them do something physical to cope, in the moment. So, they start having a meltdown and I have them do 20 jumping jacks... or I have them run to the door and stomp out their anger (they are not to kick anything, just stomp out the anger)... or run to the top of the stairs and shake the anger out of their hands... It has really helped a couple of my kids to have something physical to do to release anger.


If I catch negative talk, I handle it matter-of-factly and move on. Partly because a couple of my boys will use that to take up more and more of my time, getting more attention. So, any discussions have to be to the point so they don't benefit from negative behavior.


When they behave badly because of an emotion (anger, jealousy), we quickly discuss what triggered it and they have to come up with a couple (at least 2) ideas for what they could do next time... "I can go wash my face to cool off or I can do jumping jacks or I can ask mom for help" If they cannot come up with ideas for how to handle the trigger, I give them a few options and then they have to repeat it to me, "The next time my brother is annoying me I will _________________ or ______________"


And that's about it... other than setting the example, myself... which I have failed at recently... And don't be afraid to tell your children, "Today I got upset when the neighbor _________________ and I reacted this way....... and it would have been better if I had done this.........." When we share those teachable things, they pick up on it and learn from us...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There much be a healthy balance somewhere.


I try to model it, and use the general technique in Raising A Thinking Child.

When I see people being ridiculous, I point it out, and why it is damaging, the same way I point out people being illogical, or deceptive sales techniques.

(We didn't have much TV when I was growing up, but I certainly remember my mother blasting "stressed" people who "made a drink", e.g.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I try and see whats going on behind the emotion and meet or communicate with that need in the child. I try and be an ear for the child so that they can learn to express in words what is going on inside them.

I grew up without a language for my feelings or emotions. Nobody talked about feelings in my home and it took me years to even have a clue what I was feeling. So I have consciously and painstakingly developed an awareness of naming what I am feeling and helping the kids name what they are feeling. I just find having a language for our inner world helps so much- to be able to share whats going on inside, in words, with another, makes such a difference.

I think reflecting back to a kid, asking them if they feel......, can help a lot.

Every kid is so different though and often it takes US as parents to get a handle on our own emotional balance before we can help the kids.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For me, it's all about appropriateness - and learning what is appropriate, when. I was raised in a home where feelings were valid (nobody told me what to feel or that what I was feeling was "dumb" or "wrong") but those feelings didn't give one carte blanche to do as one pleased. Just because I felt left out when my sisters went shopping didn't mean they had to include me; just because I wanted my little brother's coloring book didn't mean I got to use it (without asking him first); et cetera. We also weren't permitted to over-react. My family kept things very much in perspective for us, not in a cruel demeaning way but more in a "get a grip" way that taught us to control our emotions rather than vice versa. By that I mean they were pretty much acting the peanut gallery LOL.


I do the same with my kids. Sometimes I applaud their dramatic performances, but have to remind them that I'm fresh out of Academy Awards to pass out. I ask them to mentally rate the situation in their heads -- is this situation a 3 (out of ten)? Is it a 9? And we work on keeping their emotions/reactions appropriate to the rating. It's appropriate to be equally upset when a sibling destroys a days-long Lego project in the AM and then a few hours later steals two french fries off of the same kid's lunch plate; it's NOT appropriate to outwardly react the same, though. One is clearly more weighted than the other, and the outburst/reaction should be reflective of that. Honestly, it's the same thing I have to remind myself when parenting my kids ;) they see the parallels there because we discuss them, usually in the moment. We're all works in progress.


Appropriateness also means learning and following social cues and rules. That comes with maturity and experience, I think. Usually. My MIL still doesn't get that and will unleash her life's burdens on the poor hapless Starbucks barista when asked how things are going ;). The kids and I talk about appropriateness of disclosure. The barista doesn't really care on a deep level the way a friend or family would; she's asking to be polite and to initiate a transaction. Disclosure should be reflective of that -- you don't have to lie and say things are fine if they aren't, but a quick "Life's been better, it's definitely a double-shot kind of day" or the like is more appropriate to the situation than a full-break down of one's peronal dilemmas. While a line forms behind you. And the barista glances around awkwardly, looking for the hidden camera crew. If you need to unload, do it to friends and family. (It's also appropriate to bring them Starbucks, too, for their troubles in being your "shoulder" LOL)


We also talk about not airing our dirty laundry. To some extent that would qualify as the "suck it up and stuff it" mentality, but IMO it's still about finding the appropriate audience for one's emotions so it's just a temporary measure. By "our" dirty laundry I mean our extended family's; nobody is expected to work through any emotion alone. We're more offended by those who try than we are by those who unload, even repeatedly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...