Dr Kathryn Hollins
Why do we get so overwhelmed by our children's feelings?
Have you noticed yourself becoming really angry, stressed or panicky when your child becomes very upset or furious?
Find a calm moment, when all is quiet, and ask yourself which emotion you find hardest to accept in your child. Is it when he or she is sad, angry, disappointed, frustrated? Next allow yourself to think about which feeling you find hardest to accept in yourself- often it is the same emotion you struggle with in your child. This can indicate how hard it was for your own parents to accept this feeling in you. This is common and is understandable- we can pass on the same difficulty from one generation to the next, unless we recognise the pattern, pause and choose a different story.
When you are able to identify the feelings you are overwhelmed by in your child, talk to your partner or a friend about it and explain you want to try and accept your child's feelings and empathise but you don't know how. Get support so you can reach out and be with your son and daughter in the way they need. Accepting that your child's strong feelings are normal and part of life is soothing and calming for everyone. It can take time for feelings to calm- your presence can really help if you are able to be calm and kind.
Be kind to yourself! This means accepting your feelings too. All of them. Sometimes we can feel despondent, despairing and desperate as parents. That is part of being human. Yes reach out and ask for support from friends and professionals when needed. But remember that you are ok for feeling life intensely. It makes you who you are and will help your child accept themselves for who they are becoming.