Dr Kathryn Hollins
When your children's feelings overwhelm you
Hello and welcome to my first blog!
You know those moments when your child becomes really angry or upset and you feel like you haven't a clue what to do?
Three tips for action
1. Listen. Simply listen. And breathe. It sounds so easy and yet feels so impossible when we are faced with our angry or inconsolable child. Our own feelings can flood the space, leaving little room to hear what is actually going on and accept that this is how our child is feeling. If we are honest, sometimes we can't bear it because we want everything to be ok.
2. Then empathise. Keep your words gentle, simple and calm. Try not to ask your child questions they can't answer- they may not know why they feel so upset and may need you to help them make sense of it all. Name the feelings you think your child might be feeling e.g. "It sounds like you are feeling really upset/ angry/ disappointed...".
And remember your child doesn't need to agree with you and and you don't need to persuade them of your ideas. Sadness, anger, disappointment are part of life and we need to accompany our children with their feelings so they feel less overwhelmed and out of control. What matters is that you are showing them you ACCEPT the strength and type of their emotions and that it's alright to feel the way they feel.
3. Later, when feelings are calm again, see if there is a way of reflecting with your child about what happened. It may be an opportunity to find out how you can support them next time they feel sad. Or to talk about what helps them when they become so angry. Little by little this process will give them the courage to know feelings are safe, and to begin to understand and manage their feelings more themselves.
In my next blog I will look at the reasons WHY we can feel so overwhelmed by our children's strong emotions and what can help.
I will post regularly, so do come back to visit. You are welcome to email me your contact details to add to my mailing list. This website is completely new: I will be adding links to my podcasts (e.g. on The Parenthood), my Facebook Page and YouTube videos over the coming weeks.