When Your Child Struggles With BIG FeelingsDec 01, 2022
Does your child struggle with BIG feelings and are their emotions all-consuming? Are your child's emotions unpredictable, keeping you on edge because you're not sure how to parent through it or what to do? You are not alone. Parenting kids through big feelings can be hard and scary. Many parents find it either maddening or anxiety-provoking — and some parents find it a mixture of both and more.
I have parents telling me they’re at their wit's end. They try different things but it’s hit or miss and most days they feel like they make things worse. Most tell me they don’t know what to do, or they’re wondering if they’re doing the right thing. Some even tell me they just don’t feel like they were cut out for parenting.
I get it. As parents we want our kids to be kind and happy — and when they’re not, we think that something has gone wrong or that we’ve done something wrong. So we end up trying to solve the “problem” that is causing the BIG feelings. If they’re not being kind we try to change the behavior with discipline. If they’re upset we try to fix whatever it is that’s making them upset, or we try to explain and justify why we can’t.
But when we try to solve the problem that is driving the big feelings, we are solving the wrong problem.
The problem isn’t that your child has a meltdown because you put the banana in the yogurt instead of on the side, or you asked them to turn off the iPad and come to dinner. The problem isn’t that your child is feeling worried or left out because of some drama with friends, or anxious about upcoming exams at school.
These “problems” are just the smoke in a burning building. When we are trying to correct the behavior or to reason through feelings, it’s like we have opened the windows to get the smoke out of a burning building - but we haven’t put out the fire. When we try to fix or solve a specific symptom, we are not addressing the underlying problem and the fire is still burning.
Because the real problem is that your child hasn’t yet learned how to handle feelings of disappointment or frustration when things aren’t as they expected or wanted. The real problem is that your child hasn’t learned that it’s totally normal to feel worried, nervous, and anxious at times, and what to do when that happens. The ability to be able to navigate these feelings is a SKILL that kids have to learn.
Children have to learn how to regulate and calm their nervous system to handle big feelings, and they learn from parents walking them through it over and over again until they can do it on their own.
It is pretty much a guarantee that your child will be faced with situations and challenges throughout their lives that will bring about big feelings. You cannot protect your child from disappointment, frustration, worry, fear, and anxiety — but you can teach them what to do when they are experiencing these big feelings.
I would argue that teaching your kids how to handle big feelings is one of the best skills that you can teach them —one that will have a huge impact on their emotional health and happiness for life. This is what drives my work with parents, and why I am so passionate about helping parents understand and learn these concepts.
Join me for my How To Parent Through BIG Feelings Workshop where you will learn what’s causing the fire behind the big feelings, what parenting mistakes to avoid, and what you can do to help.
Click here to register.
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