"Never apologize for what YOU feel, It is like saying Sorry for being Real"
No one can control how they feel. Feelings just are... And it is completely normal and acceptable for children to have feelings. There is no right or wrong feelings. However, some children find it hard to express them, especially when feelings are unpleasant, like sadness, anger or anxiety.
Do your children have difficulties expressing their feelings? Do you wish they could easily talk with you about what they feel?
As a parent, you play a major role in your children’s ability to identify, understand and express their feelings.
Here’s a guideline that would help your children share feelings easily.
- Acknowledge your children’s feelings by listening to them, and repeating what they have just said in your own words. For example, if your child says “I feel mad because I didn’t do well on my test today”, you can say “so you are angry because you expected to do better on your test”.
- Let the conversation open up naturally rather than trying to force it. Let your children know that you are there, without pushing.
- Validate your children’s feelings by creating a no-judgment zone for them, where there is no blame and no shame. Your children need to know that it is okay to have emotions.
- Stay calm when they talk about their feelings, because whatever they feel, they will not be in a receptive frame of mind to receive any of your reactions.
- Explain the importance of releasing feelings (taking the inside out): tell them how hard it is not to tell anyone that they are feeling sad, worried or upset. Keeping their feelings locked inside can make them feel sick!
- Let them gain your trust by explaining that you are the person to whom it is safe to show feelings and talk about them. And that you care! You are not guarantying that their worries will disappear, but at least your presence might help them find solutions.
- Talk about your feelings and role model how you deal with them: share some of them with your children: It could be an incident that happened at your workplace that made you feel angry, and how you worked it out by calming yourself down, and dealing with it (Make sure they are not related to a specific subject that would trigger an unwanted emotion).
- Help them release their feelings throughout other activities such as breathing, drawing, writing or even hanging a "feeling chart" in their room.
Making your children feel at ease to show their emotions and talk about their feelings depends on many factors. However, researches show that when parents talk with their children about feelings, children’s emotional competences increase.
And remember that encouraging your children to talk about their feelings will be the first step toward finding solutions to any problem they can encounter later.
Youth, Parent and Family Coach