26: acknowledge and teach emotions.


Going from tantrums to emotions makes sense right? Usually when a tantrum happens it is because emotions get out of control or they are unable to express how they’re feeling or what they want.

I am horrible at dealing with emotions.

When I was younger (maybe 13?) people asked me if I smiled all the time or if I was ever unhappy. I never rally thought about it then. People could ask how I was and I would give the standard “fine, thanks! How are you?” Without pausing for a breath.
Even to people who might want to know how I actually was.
Even when I wasn’t fine.
In most situations ‘fine’ is an appropriate response (strangers, people who you aren’t close with).

Pretty soon after starting school I realized that smiling was my wall. My happy front was how I kept people out and at a distance. I’m not sure why yet.
And I really was happy most of the time. No big deal. But then when I wasn’t, there were very few people I felt comfortable talking to.

I started writing my way through my thought life a few years ago. Before that I couldn’t really tell you how I was feeling most of the time. It became essential when I met my husband and real communication needed to happen. Israel would ask what’s wrong and I would say nothing because I honestly didn’t know what was bothering me.

That still happens time and again, but now instead I say “I don’t know”. Which frustrates him because he wants to fix it. Sometimes I just say that I’ll tell him when I figure kt out and that works better. Thought sometimes I say “I do’t know ” when I really do know. (Which is why it frustrates him when I say I don’t know! The poor man).Usually i’m just scared to trust him by saying what I think when it could cause conflict. Because in my head conflict is bad.

I’m getting better at being more in touch with the why and the what of my emotions. Which is good. I’m still bad at it, but I want to make sure my kids are capable and aware of dealing with their emotions (and yes, it would help my marriage. Which is awesome!) So I’m working on it.

I would like my littles to be able to feel things and know it’s ok if you’re not happy all the time. I want them to know it’s ok to talk about thr good, the bad and the ugly with us.

So we’ll talk. And I’ll try not to silence tantrums or differing opinions or negative thoughts too much and instead try to help them to process these emotions in a constructive way.

And I’ll keep writing because that helps me process my own stuff. :)

“Many times, emphatic and reflective comments can help your child move past his frustration at not getting what he wanted. however, even if the parent offers the most supportive response, a child may still feel upset and adamant about his desire, no matter what you say or do. Allowing your child to have his distress without trying to punish him or indulge him can offer him the opportunity to learn how to tolerate his own emotional discomfort.” Parenting from the Inside Out

Just a disclaimer: if I’m talking about what I want to do with my kids and it happens to be different from what I knew, I am in no way stating my displeasure with how I was raised. I am happy with it. I am a happy well-adjusted adult. And when I figured out that emotions were missing form my brain I was old enough and well rounded enough and secure enough to deal with it on my own thanks to my parents. I had a normal childhood. Really. :)
My mom wrote this really thoughtful piece about how she is also becoming less Spock-like: Growing Pains. So good.

It is interesting to be able to go through it with her and to be able to see some of the different ways she is figuring out how to deal with my siblings who I think will really benefit more then I could have from this sort of input and are still at home. I appreciate hearing her wisdom on it all.



6 thoughts on “26: acknowledge and teach emotions.

  1. I read an interesting piece a couple weeks ago along the same line of acknowledging emotions in kids. It was arguing that people trying to cheer up sad kids too often tell them that they’re “fine” or “ok”(when their behavior shows that they don’t feel either) or just try to distract them out of it. It was interesting to think about.
    On the one hand we have to help them acknowledge their emotions, on the other we have to give them strategies for coping with their emotions and doing the right thing anyway. What a balance!
    Thanks for the post. Good to think about. :)


    1. Yes. Such a balance. I tend to say You’re ok way to often. Especially when I am the one who caused the pain or frustration. It’s hard to take responsibility and also teach them healthy ways to deal with their emotions.


  2. I have been working with my girls on emotions. I have an overly emotional six-year-old and she is driving me crazy with her tears. I find my self really struggling not to get upset myself. I know that she knows this problem isn’t worth crying over, but I have to figure out how to help her express the emotion that she is actually feeling.


  3. I love this post! I too am still trying to figure out how to communicate feelings with people, unfortunately the hubby gets the brunt of it and takes it fairly well!

    However, if I get stressed or upset (even if he didn’t cause the stress or hurt feelings) I take all my feelings and dump them on him!! Not fair to him, makes me feel bad, makes us become a little distant.

    Hopefully I can figure it out a little before I have a kid who will learn from me. Maybe someday I’ll know how to communicate them with other people so Matt doesn’t take all the emotional beatings…
    Thanks for showing everyone they aren’t alone in the sea of emotions without a compass ;)


    1. Yes! It is so hard, but so worth learning. Even though it can be frustrating and painful. Bah. :) good luck! Thanks for admitting your disconnect as well. The emotionally challenged club feels bigger with two ;)


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