One Tip For Helping Your Child Through Big Feelings

Last week I delivered my first live parenting workshop since lockdown. So much fun – I loved being in a room with actual people and talking about how to help children feel better, so family life settles down.

So the number one topic that parents brought to this session was this:

How can I help my child with their big feelings?

How can we deal with big feelings?

Watch the video or scroll down to read more…

I understand why big feelings are a big concern. Firstly, you’re already incredibly busy and when you need to cook dinner or you want to put your child to bed and there’s a big eruption of feelings, it’s inconvenient.

And there’s more to it than that, isn’t there?

Big feelings touch us – they bring up feelings in us. We’re not neutral.

Looking more closely at this, big feelings usually trigger ‘opinions’. These are points of view that in the moment we often believe to be true, but actually aren’t.

Opinions that come up for parents I talk to are things like,

“I must be doing a bad job if this is happening.”

“My child has an anger issue.”

“This needs to be fixed.”

“This shouldn’t be happening.”

I want to help you make a distinction here that I think is really helpful.

On the one hand, you’ve got your child having some feelings. And on the other hand there are these ‘opinions’, which, by the way, come from younger parts of you.

It’s totally reasonable for those younger parts to have this kind of reaction because, back in the day when you were young, big feelings would have been dangerous or alarming in some way. Your younger part wants to help you with that now, but actually these ‘opinions’ are not very helpful.

Why?

Because they make you panic. They make you believe you have an emergency on your hands. So you then have big feelings in response to your child’s big feelings!

So it’s important in that moment to make the distinction between the big feelings your child is having and these ‘opinions’. These opinions are something entirely separate – and we are not obliged to believe them. Indeed it’s wise not to believe them.

It’s natural and very normal for your child to have big feelings

For example, if you’ve been following my most recent posts about how to reduce screen time, and that’s something you’re trying to implement in your family, your children are going to have feelings about that. You’re cutting back on something that they like. But that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. It doesn’t mean that you’re wrong, or that they’re wrong, or that anything’s wrong. It’s just what it is.

Having this kind of neutrality about feelings is very helpful. When my son has a teenage wobbly I tell myself something like, “This is normal. He’s going to recover soon and be himself. This doesn’t mean I’ve done anything wrong and I don’t need to fix it.”

That’s an important one. “I don’t need to fix it.”

And this really helps me be present for him and present for myself. Being a calm presence is the very best thing you can do for your child when they’re having a strong emotion.

Try this…

At the workshop last week I shared this photograph, because I feel it exemplifies the kind of calm presence that helps most with big feelings. I asked the parents who were there the question, “What do you see?”

Helping your child through big feelings

Take a moment before reading on to see how you respond to this image.

What do you see him doing?

And what is he not doing?

Everyone will see something different, and you can’t get it wrong.

What the parents at the workshop said was,

  • He’s not going, “shh, shh, shh…”
  • He’s not distracting her.
  • He’s not pointing out some nice thing or trying to talk her out of it.

And in fact, he’s not saying anything. Instead, he’s totally there for her.

So my question to you is, what could you do, to really ground yourself so that you can be the calm presence your child needs?

Do you have a practice?

For some people it’s 10 minutes of yoga in the morning, or it could be journaling on the sofa in the evening or just sitting down with a candle and a cup of tea. Or perhaps for you it’s going into the garden and just listening to the sounds around you.

These things can really help us to be present so that we can be there for ourselves and for our children when the feelings come up.

If you’d like to catch my Facebook lives, please follow me HERE. You can also subscribe to my YouTube channel HERE.

Solve the Struggle with Your Kids

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The 6 Wise Parenting Powers

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Solve the Struggle with Your Kids

parenting-3d-cover_500

The 6 Wise Parenting Powers

Download my no cost guide to raising a secure and happy family.

By signing up you're agreeing to receive the guide, a few emails to help you get started and my irregular newsletter, with useful articles and resources, news of free parenting trainings and special offers on my mentoring services. You can unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy.