Don’t fear the tantrum! The Respectful Mom is back with your weekly dose of parenting tips; today it’s all about the importance of acknowledging feelings when our children are upset
Kristin Mariella from respectfulmom.com has become well known for her powerful parenting workshops, writing and social media shares. With a large following and global reach, her focus is on shifting mindsets to inspire parents to become more intentional in their parenting journey. Kristin shares relatable and engaging personal experiences, insights and knowledge as she opens up and connects on a deep level with parents and caregivers around the world. We are so excited to be partnering up with her on a new weekly series; read on for part 4 in this eight-week series, and be sure to check out our Instagram Stories every Thursday for more of Kristin’s parenting tips and mind-blowing insights!
18-month-old Ari is happily playing on the slide when Mommy announces that it’s time to go home for dinner. As she tries to help Ari down from the slide he protests and starts flailing his arms and kicking his legs. At this moment, rather than becoming more stern, yelling, or worrying about this behaviour, his mom will have more success getting Ari home by acknowledging the fact that she understands why Ari is upset—Ari isn’t ready to leave the park, he loves sliding down, and wants to keep playing!
This approach to our children’s upset reactions is acknowledging feelings, and it is truly transformative. If you haven’t started incorporating this way of communicating with your little one, then congratulations, your life is about to change for the better!
“One of the most ironically counterintuitive twists of parenting is this: the more we welcome our children’s displeasure, the happier everyone in our household will be,” writes parenting expert Janet Lansbury.
She continues with one of my all-time favourite quotes:
“There is no greater gift to our children and ourselves than complete acceptance of their negative feelings. (Notice I did not say ‘behaviours’.)”
Not only does Janet articulate so beautifully what an incredible gift welcoming, accepting and validating negative feelings is for our children and ourselves, but she also captures how counterintuitive it can actually feel for us parents to start welcoming our children’s upset reactions!
The worry most parents have is that acknowledging negative feelings actually creates more negative feelings. That when we reflect back to them with empathy, for example when we say something like “I can see you are very upset you really wanted that strawberry ice-cream at the store” we are actually introducing the concept and encouraging their “want for an ice-cream”. But the twist here is that in reality it actually has the opposite effect. When we reflect back to them with understanding, step into their fantasy and acknowledge their “want”, it actually helps our children release the feelings, move on and become much more able to accept our limits in the process.
Acknowledging feelings is such a transformative communication tool that once parents start to do it, they’ll wonder how they ever operated differently. Once you go through the mindset shift of seeing the expression of negative feelings as good, healthy and even necessary for our kids’ emotional health and inner peace, there is no way you’ll ever go back!