Years ago, when I was in law school and quite a bit younger, I was stressed with work but also with the relationship I was in. It was one of the periods in my life when I was learning to trust my gut–and struggling.
Several things were going on, one of which was that my feelings were being discounted. In a nutshell, he said my feelings were wrong. He tried to make me feel like my thoughts and feelings weren't valid.
Parenting and Feelings: Where There's No Right or Wrong
A very good friend whom I confided in told me something I've never forgotten and often remember when I'm doubting myself or my feelings. She said there is no right or wrong where feelings are concerned. If you're feeling it, it's real. A healthy, trusting relationship will respect and give validity to your emotions–and respond to them.
She went on to say there are two people in every relationship, and that those people and the relationship itself are unique. Feelings are unique, real and should matter.
I've never forgotten the meaning and truth in her words. If you're feeling it, it's real. Being right or wrong has no place. After all, we aren't in law school or running a business, right?
As I continue my journey as a mama of two energetic and headstrong kiddos, I sometimes need to remind myself of my friend's very wise and loaded words.
Children often get extremely upset and frustrated in certain situations that in our minds may not necessarily warrant it. They have meltdowns while they learn to navigate, understand and manage what can seem like and be very big emotions.
Does this make their feelings wrong? Certainly not. Sometimes my first inclination is to say ” please stop crying” or ” please calm down”–but I try to stop myself. Kids need to express themselves and know that their feelings are worthy, important, understood and valid–just as we all do.
They don't need to be shut down or hushed, even if it's our first instinct. We want them to feel better. We want to try to help them. We want them to calm down.
But home is the safe place where our kids can let out and feel their emotions.
Over time, our little ones' emotions do mature, as do the issues they're managing. As everyone does, children do slowly learn how to handle what can seem like very overwhelming thoughts and emotions. But they will learn to manage much better if we validate them from the get-go and show our trust in them.
If they are feeling it, it's real. It's important. It's valid. After all, feelings signal something going on inside of us, right? And our insides are what are the most important.
So as the kids have their inevitable meltdowns or even small upsets, I try to remember that they are their feelings–sometimes very big and sometimes small–but always very real and important.
How do you help your kids navigate their big emotions? We'd love to hear from you!