Do you become angry when you hear them express feelings that are unacceptable to you?
Your child is going to feel the way that they feel whether they tell you or not. By providing a safe environment for them to express their feelings, you are teaching them the art of healthy communication which will reduce the risk of acting out emotions in destructive ways.
“Children have an inherent right to acknowledge and express feelings, including angry feelings, just as we do. This does not mean that they have the right to disrupt or harm others or damage property. Certain behaviors, including hitting, kicking, biting, and shoving, should not be tolerated, and should result in disciplinary action, such as time out. Young children especially need our help learning to express their feelings in words rather than putting them into action. As parents, we need to accept and respect our children’s feelings of frustration, while maintaining rules and limits of behavior. Finding a consistent balance can be a challenge.” – Dorothy Law Nolte and Rachel Harris, Authors of Children Learn What They Live: Parenting to Inspire Values
4 tips for parents
- Encourage open communication. Allow your children to express their feelings in a respectful way.
- Validate their feelings. Let them know that their feelings are important even if you disagree.
- Create a safe environment: Listen without becoming angry or judgmental. Nothing will shut your child up faster than your anger. Remember, their unexpressed feelings will then come out in destructive ways.
- Be consistent. Your child pays attention to your actions more than your words. If your child hits, kicks, or shoves another child and you discipline your child by hitting, kicking, or shoving him or her, you are sending a confusing message. When you yell, “WE DO NOT HIT!” as you hit your child, your message is not clear. Your actions need to match your words.