Have you ever had someone snap at you and you could not figure out what you had done wrong? It is hard to deal with as an adult and even harder if you are a child. There are important lessons in life about emotions that your child needs to learn.
You need to teach your children that it is okay to have all kinds of feelings by letting them know when you are angry, sad, frustrated, exhausted, or excited. This is information your child needs to understand why you are upset but also to learn how to handle these kinds of feelings.
If you are sad because a friend has moved, tell your child. You also have a chance to tell your child how you will handle the feeling. “I’m sad that my friend is moving away because I will miss her. But I can call or write her letters so that we can still be friends.”
Children learn how to deal with their emotions based on how you deal with your emotions. If you react too strongly to your child’s misbehavior because you are in a bad mood, it’s okay to come back to her and say, “I’m sorry I yelled at you for not sharing with your brother. I have had a hard day and I was frustrated. It makes me proud of you when you are able to share with him and you guys don’t fight over your toys.”
You are open to showing your child how you are handling your emotions.
You also want to show your child how to express her emotions. For example, we all get angry from time to time.
Tackling tough times
Some situations are especially upsetting to young children. Here are some examples:
• Frustration that she can’t do it or have it now.
• Difficult saying what her needs are.
• Being hurt or in pain.
• Feeling disappointment.
• Wanting something very badly but being too tired or too little to do it.
• Parents not understanding or not doing what she wants them to do.
• Parents taking over instead of asking how they can help.
• Feeling left out.
• Doing poorly at school.
Put yourself in your child’s place and chances are you will become more understanding of her anger. See if you can understand her emotional outburst when she has strong feelings that she may not have shared with you.
Teach her the value in letting you know what she is feeling. Help her learn to let others know when she is experiencing a tough day … a day like we all have from time to time.
When she sees that you have bad mood days and can explain them, it helps. You are teaching her about ways to handle the bad days. This is one more of the many lessons you are there to teach your child. You are an important teacher.
“Parents teach in the toughest school in the world … the School for Making People. You are the board of education, the principal, the class room teacher, and the janitor.” — Virginia Satir
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. For more information, email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-681-2250.