Have you ever heard yourself say to your hurt or upset child something along the lines of “Don’t Cry! You’re okay. Up you get. You’re fine.” Have you tried to distract your child or make them laugh when they are really having a hard time? I have, especially to my son.
It was clear that he was sad/hurt, and not feeling okay. But there I was telling him that he was okay, trying to cajole him into being okay. Strange. The truth was that I wasn’t comfortable with the sadness and I wanted him to stop so that I would feel okay.
It is important to allow for and to teach our kids how to feel their feelings. Many of us were taught that sadness was not okay. As a result, we don’t know what to do with it. I look around and I see an epidemic of people medicating, drinking, shopping, netflixing. and eating so they can feel better than they feel. I wonder what might happen if we all learned to feel what we are feeling, instead of running from it.
We are scared of sadness. I was scared of it. My knee jerk reaction was to stop the sadness. Even when my first son was a baby, I could barely stand the crying. I remember all the things I used to do to try to stop the crying….except just being with it and him. This is the one thing I had not yet tried: to accept it, be with it, and allow for it to come and go.
So, let your children feel sadness. It will pass. It will pass even quicker the calmer and more accepting you are of the emotion. My instinct was to shut it down, but this only made it worse. Sadness is okay. It’s a regular emotion that we are all allowed to feel. Here is a quick guide to help you help your child move through some difficult emotions.
- Allow for difficult emotions. Recognize them as acceptable
- Teach your child to name the emotion
- Give you child space and time to express the emotion
- Validate your child’s feelings
- Teach your child how to regulate themselves when experiencing negative emotions.
- Model how to do this yourself with your own emotions.