In our previous blog, we discussed parents being on the receiving end of our kids’ big, hard-to-have feelings and the importance of listening…truly listening….as a way to respond in these moments. Today, we’re discussing some more traps parents fall into from time to time with some empathic and supportive alternatives.
One circumstance to handle differently…If our kids are spewing self-deprecating statements, we need to shut that down right away. They can still cry or yell, but we don’t want them to say terrible things to themselves. Kids don’t need to forge any neural pathways that reinforce poor self-esteem. When we hear our children hating on themselves, we need to prompt them to restate their concerns. For instance, if we hear “I’m such an idiot! I’m the worst soccer player in the world!” we can compassionately redirect them. We can say, “I totally hear you that you’re mad at yourself for missing that goal. That must be so frustrating. But is there a way you could say it that is kinder to you? You’re already feeling terrible that you missed the goal–you don’t need to make it worse by insulting yourself.” How about something like this? “I’m SOOOOO disappointed that I missed that goal.” Or “I’m SOOOOO embarrassed that I missed that goal.”
When we role model healthier ways to handle big feelings, we help our kids develop critical emotional skills that will help them navigate all the big feelings they’ll encounter across the lifespan.
Sarah Ince, LCSW
Licensed Clinical Social Worker