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I'm Avital.

You want a present, peaceful and playful family life? I'm here to help you make that a reality.

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5 Ways To Handle Negative Emotions

As parents, it pains us to see our kids in pain, so we want to protect them from negative emotions such as frustration, irritation, failure, sadness, disappointment, etc.

But in fact, when we hasten to clear obstacles from their way or to soothe away their upset too strongly, we’re sending some dangerous messages.

We’re saying we don’t think they can handle what the world throws at them, that they can’t hack their own feelings… something which can turn into a self fulfilling prophecy. We’re also saying we think negative emotions are to be avoided at all costs, which encourages our children to stuff them down.

Freud taught us that negative emotions don’t go away, they simply resurface in ever more violent ways, and most modern physiologists agree. Emotions need to be expressed in order to be released. In fact, many psychologists consider the ability to express negative emotions in a healthy way as the corner stone of mental health. And this is something our children can practice from birth.

As we said, when we’re down, the only healthy way to feel better is to move through a negative emotion – to ride the wave of it, if you will. Sitting with the emotion, learning it, accepting it and reaping it’s lessons, rather than stuffing it down.

But when we ourselves have such a fixated agenda on our children’s happiness, it can be so tempting to deny their less-than-happy states. So what can we do to help them move through emotions and come out, healthier, on the other side?

5 Ways to Handle Negative Emotions

  1. First, regulate yourself
    If negative emotions trigger an intense response in you see that as an invitation to work that out. Were certain emotions not tolerated in your own upbringing? Was crying shut down? Was disappointment invalidated? Was upset hushed? If so do some soul searching and ask yourself which “shoulds” you’re holding onto – perhaps it’s time to let them go. If you are triggered by your child’s big bad feelings, you won’t be able to hold a safe space for them to move through them, supported by you.
  2. Cultivate a detached empathy
    You need to reach a place where you can hold space for them without associating too deeply with their feelings. If you’re identifying too greatly with their emotions you become enmeshed with them and can’t be the anchor they need. Imagine them as a ship going through a storm. They need a calm, centered captain who isn’t overwhelmed by storms.

    Further, when you add your big feelings to theirs – you overwhelm their capacity to regulate themselves. Saying things like “It makes mommy sad when you’re sad” only burdens them further, and adds guilt to their already challenging feelings. They need to know that you’re totally fine, although empathic, no matter what they are feeling.

  3. Accept emotions – not behaviors
    On the one hand we’re striving to be tolerant of emotions, to validate and empathize with the tough feelings our kids are experiencing. But on the other hand, it’s our job to keep them and others safe. So if their behaviors are violent or destructive, rue or hurtful you might need to set limits to those behaviors, all the while empathizing with the emotions that drive them. For example, you might request that your child stops crying or fussing, that they keep their hands to themselves or that they return something they’ve grabbed, but still empathizing with the fact that they’re having a hard time.
  4. Develop your child’s emotional vocabulary
    Take the opportunity to label the emotion they’re experiencing, and provide vocabulary for safe expression. The more precisely you and your child can describe the feeling, the easier it is to feel “heard” and move through them. Check out this extensive list if you need an “emotional vocab” refresh.
  5. Provide a healthy outlet
    Your child may not have ideas for how to healthily express their sorrow, embarrassment or despair. Offer them the opportunity to draw about the feeling, to dance it out, to paint or sing… any creative outlet can be amazingly healing. Of course playing out the feelings with dolls or puppets can also be an excellent outlet for kids.

Do you get triggered by negative emotions in your child? How do you help them, and yourself, move through them? 

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Remember that Messy Zone you "popped up" last week?

Now's the time to take it for a test drive! (First, make sure you're in the "mood" for a Messy Strew - mmkay?)

The idea is to leave out a "play prompt" or invitation - in this case, with some sensory play or some crafting materials.

The Messy Zone provides a place that's contained and easy to clean.

The benefits of this type of tactile exploration are many:

🌈 First of all, children develop their fine motor skills as they apply their hands with dexterity - allowing sand to escape between their fingers, pressing play dough into the shape they desire, or gliding a paintbrush over the paper.

🌈 Sensory play is where children discover chemistry, physics and advance their vocabulary - differentiating between wet and dry, hard and soft, smooth and bumpy.

🌈 And they notice what happens to materials and objects as they're transformed, mixed, squished, and poured.

🌈 Finally, sensory play is highly soothing and usually engages kids for a long time!

Now, go! Put that pop-up messy zone to use and try your hand at inspiring play today with a messy strew.

Fair warning: they might not bite. But that's okay too! This is a light, fun, experiemental activity that you can learn to use to support your unique child - stay curious, watch and notice.

Share a picture of your strew in your stories, tagging @parentingjunkie - I can't wait to see!

#reclaimplay #messyzone #messyplay #messyplayideas #messyplaytime #messyplayathome #sensoryplay #sensoryplayideas #playprompt #strewpro #strewing #strewingforthewin #kitchenstrew #presentplay #playinvitation #playinvitations #playinvite #invitationtoplay #independentplay #playisimportant #playisenough #playistheworkofchildhood #playisfun
...

Imagine that instead of brushing your kid’s teeth every day, you decided to wait until they’re 16. ⁣

The side effects of this choice would be…⁣
😝 Bad breath⁣
😬 Plaque build-up and discoloration⁣
🦷 Toothaches and cavities… ⁣
and eventually, BIG $$$$$ at the dentist for treatment.⁣

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!⁣
Of course, this is not a good plan!⁣

I'm going to assume you would rather create a small, manageable daily habit that invests in our child’s oral hygiene to last a lifetime.⁣

Because we know: ⁣
It might be a pain to get started and stay consistent, but over the long haul, it will save you so much pain, $$$, and grossness.🤢⁣

And it's the same with, independence.⁣

If you invest a little bit in your child’s independent play right now - taking small, manageable steps every day to maintain and establish healthy habits - you will reap the benefits over time.⁣

A tough-love moment here - it’s not realistic to wait until your child is 16 and then suddenly expect them to be independent enough to drive or get their first job or figure out a plan for the summer.⁣

These are skills you’ve got to build slowly and gradually.⁣

It’s also not desirable to spend the next decade suffering through burnout, exhaustion, clinginess - because you’re not making the little investment that it takes to establish healthy independent play habits (just as it’s not awesome to endure cavities, toothache, and bad breath for years - rather than invest in establishing healthy brushing habits early on).⁣

So I guess my message is: Don’t wait with this. ⁣
When we neglect our child’s need for independence - it gets worse, not better.⁣

But when you take the time to follow along with the small, daily, doable actions that are outlined in the Reclaim Play Challenge - it will pay off in spades years later! ⁣

That’s why you’re here.⁣

You can do this. 💪⁣

It’s SO worth it. The small actions you’re taking now are going to pay back dividends... forever.⁣

Reclaim Play is all unlocked! Link in bio
...

We're kicking off Week 3 "Inspire" with a set of #StrewPro challenges!

So, what is a strew? It's simply leaving out toys, books, activities, or objects in a new and inviting way. Silently waiting for your kid to "discover" them and maybe - just maybe - to bite into independent play.

Did you know there are a myriad of "toys" in your home, strews waiting to be formed right under your nose?

Today, I want you to head to your KITCHEN and find things that your kid might take interest in...

Nesting bowls
Measuring cups
Spatulas
Wooden spoons
Pots
Pans

There's literally so many options and combinations to explore!

Try putting them out on a tray or somewhere that is not the kitchen. If you're feeling brave you can get really fancy and add in some water, slime, or dry beans (only do this if you're happy to clean it all up later).

There's really only ONE rule to becoming a Strew Pro:
Don't tell your child to play with it, don't tell them how to, in fact - you might kinda ignore it all together and just watch what happens.

Go! Grab a few items and arrange your first strew... take a 📸 picture of it and share with me @parentingjunkie in your instagram stories!

Welcome to the wonderful world of strewing, my friend!

#reclaimplay #strewpro #strewing #strewingforthewin #kitchenstrew #presentplay #playinvitation #playinvitations #playinvite #invitationtoplay #independentplay #playisimportant #playisenough #playistheworkofchildhood #playisfun
...

Can your child play independently for 30 minutes in a day?

This week you have done a lot of designing - you created a "pop-up" (a quick and scrappy) Imagination, Messy, Movement, Quiet, and Focus Zone. If you have a little one - you made a YES space for them.

Phew! 😅 Time to give yourself a pat on the back!

☕️Grab your hot drink, 📚your book, and a fluffy pillow because I'll bet my Lego collection you're going to be able to catch 30 minutes of play.

Remember everything you learned in week one:
🌈 Observe without interrupting!
🌈 Practice the "BRB" technique
🌈 Set up little "pop-up zones"

...and I believe you'll be able to catch your child playing for 30 minutes today and 10x the independent play in your home by the end of this week from when you started this challenge.

Now, I know you might be feeling like you're totally not "done" designing your zones - of course not!

Rome wasn't built in a day (or a week!)

In Present Play, we're going to dedicate the entire month of May to perfecting your zones. But this should set you on your way and whet your appetite for more design solutions.

When you catch those 30 mins (or more!) make sure to share it with us! Tag me in your stories @parentingjunkie

★ SIGN UP for the Challenge - link in bio!

#reclaimplay #playzone #playmatters #playspacedesign #independentplay #playistheworkofchildhood #playislearning #independentplaytime #mombreak #reclaimplaychallenge #playspace #intentionalparenting #simplicityparenting #childhooddesign #childdesign #presentplay #presentplaymovement
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2 comments

2 Replies to “BIG BAD EMOTIONS”

  1. Hi! I need help! I have two kids, 7 & 5. My youngest, Tessa, has such huge emotional outbursts that have been going for years. Since she was two years old. She gets very mad and frustrated when something doesn’t go her way. She has a hard time shrugging things off. I try to build resiliency, allow these emotions to be but they are sometimes so prolonged and consistent that I can’t even deal. It’s everyday. She gets so frustrated and moans and groans and can’t stop crying for every little thing. Clearly there is something I’m doing. Her brother isn’t like this at all. I think it’s a limits issue as well as her personality, but I’ve started dreading our days. Listening to all of your episodes! I just had to share. I know this doesn’t paint a clear picture. I’m just so tired of it!

    1. Hey Jen! I understand how frustrating that could be! My kids aren’t that age yet, I’m still in the toddler/preschooler meltdown phase of parenting. Are you in the Love Parenting with Avital facebook group? (https://www.facebook.com/groups/loveparentingwithavital/).

      I encourage you to post your question in there as well. It’s an amazing non-judgmental community that has a lot of advice and support. I’m sure there are other parents in there that are either going through something similar or have gone through it and your vulnerability in asking helps anyone else who reads it as well! – Tracy xx

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