There are many parents who have a hard time listening to their children’s feelings. I will hear them say,
“What is the big deal? I told her to find if Ruthie isn’t nice to her, she just shouldn’t play with her. It is that simple!”
“I told my son that you either like or don’t like your teacher! He got so mad at me!”
“My daughter can’t decide which extracurricular activity to join. I told her she is being ridiculous!”
Kids usually feel strongly about things that parent don’t view as being important. Not only that, kids usually have two feelings about everything.
It can get pretty confusing for parents. It helps if we understand that having 2 opposite feelings is part of being human. We can love and resent the same person. We can admire someone and feel jealous as well. We can also be excited about a new situation as well as nervous. People who know this and make friends with this fact generally are highly developed in the area of emotional intelligence.
Children are often overwhelmed by their feelings. They don’t always know how to manage them. We can help our kids sort themselves out if we acknowledge that they can have 2 different feelings about a situation or even a person. This will help them develop their own emotional intelligence. It also works because they love to hear their parents reflect their feelings back to them.
Parents might want to say:
“You sound like you are not sure what to do. You have a little bit of a sticky situation. Sometimes Ruthie is nice to you and you like her. Sometimes, you feel she is mean.”
“It sounds like you like your teacher and you are learning a lot but you don’t like it when he yells.You wish he would find a way to teach in a calm way.”
“You are torn between art and soccer. Your friends are all taking art and you know it will be fun. But soccer is really your favorite. It is a tough decision.”
Neutral statements like this, describe to children the inner turmoil that they are experiencing. It helps them think clearly and they are then better able to make decisions or elaborate on what they are feeling.
They can then say,
“You know, Maybe I will just play with Ruthie when her friends aren’t around.”
“Yeh, I don’t like it when my teacher yells but I do like when he teaches us about wildlife. I will just lay low, when he starts to yell.”
“You know what, I will take the art class now and next fall I will take soccer!”
We need to let kids know that it is okay to have 2 feelings about life’s situations or even about the people who surround them. It can help us nurture them and let them know that they can turn to us for understanding when their feelings overwhelm them.
Let us know what you think!
Adina Soclof, MS. CCC-SLP