Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Helping our children deal with their feelings

How do you see your role as a parent?  I believe my role is to love and nuture my children, to encourage and protect them.

When our children are born they are 100% dependant on us for all their needs and by the time they are adults they should be 100% independant.

During the course of my parenting I, as many parents, wanted to protect my children from the pains of growing up, such as feeling of failure or rejection.

Like most parents, I would try and make my child feel better by telling him it didn't matter or they are not important or his friend that had just rejected him wasn't a nice child etc. But what I was doing was not allowing or acknowledging his feelings, I was trying to make him feel better because I didn't like to see him upset and hurt.  But all I was doing was making him more upset and angry.

If you think about it, as adults we feel the same.  Imagine you're upset about something, maybe you've had a row with someone at work, your partner comes and puts his arms around you and says "It's not worth getting upset about."  How do you feel? Do you feel listened to? Have your feelings been acknowledged?  I guess you're probably thinking he doesn't understand, you might be feeling angry towards him!  He is trying to make you feel better but it's not working.

This is the exactly how our children feel.  So what can you do to help and at the same time allow your children to feel, whatever emotions they feel.

Next time you're in this position, instead of trying to make it better etc. acknowledge your childs feelings by saying something like, "I can see you're feeling upset/angry/sad because of ......."

Far from opening the floodgates as you might suppose your child will feel listened to and understood and will then go into more details about what happened and often will come up with a solution.

Here are two senarios:

Take 1

Child: "My goldfish is dead, he was alive this morning"
Parent:  "Now don't get upset, don't cry, it's only a goldfish"
Child - cries even more
Parent:  "Stop crying, I'll get you another goldfish"
Child:  "I don't want another one"
Parent:  "Now you're being unreasonable"

So what just happened? The child was upset about his goldfish dying but the parent, by trying to defuse the situation, offering to buy an new one, actually made the situation worse.

Take 2

Child:  "My goldfish is dead, he was alive this morning"
Parent:  "Oh no, what a shock"
Child:  "He was my best friend"
Parent:  "To lose a friend can hurt. You really cared about that goldfish"
Child:  "I fed him everyday"

In this senario the child has his feelings acknowledged and can then happily talk about his goldfish.

Parent's don't usually give this kind of response because they think that by giving the feelings a name they will make it worse but just the opposite is true.  the child hears the words for what his is feeling and is comforted.

Why don't you give it a try and let me know how it went.  Let me know what you think about this blog.

Check out my website www.lorraineburwood.co.uk 

Photograph - http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=2125

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