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6 Tips to Help Children Accept Difficult Feelings

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It is natural to want your child to be protected from difficult emotions. Parents and caregivers do their best to distract from or diffuse difficult emotions. This can be helpful, but it should not replace the need to feel your feelings and take time to understand them. It is important to remember that emotions are there for a reason. Learning to fully experience all of them is crucial to learning how to process life’s experiences. These six practices, which are based on mindfulness and Acceptance & Commitment Therapy can help children to manage difficult emotions and have healthy relationships with their feelings.

VALIDATE FEELINGS AND RAISE AWARENESS

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by emotions. Children need the tools to help them sort through their feelings. Because it helps children identify their emotions and separate them into manageable parts, emotional awareness is a vital skill. It will make it easier for children to identify what is making them mad. Encourage your child to develop emotional awareness by reflecting on what they feel. Perhaps you start by saying “Your muscles are tight, and I can see that your disappointment is evident.” This will eventually help your child to identify their emotions.

Sometimes children feel emotions that are not rational to adults. However, that doesn’t mean they are less powerful. Instead of dismissing children’s emotions, it is better to validate them by encouraging them to feel the feelings and the thoughts that go with them. You can accept the legitimacy of children’s feelings, even when they are upset about certain limits. You can, for example, say “I see how frustrated your are, but we still have to use kind words” or “I know that you are upset that playtime has ended, but we still have to clean up.”

Recognize that FEELINGS ARE AVAILABLE TO HELP YOU

Happiness, contentment, and calm are more desirable than anger, sadness, or fear in most people’s lives. Each feeling serves a purpose. Fear signals us to be cautious, while grief affirms the value and benefits of our relationships. The feelings we feel are like road signs that provide important information about our journey. You want to see signs that you are on the right track. You will be further off the track if you ignore signs that you are losing your way. Your feelings will guide you. It’s important that you don’t place value judgments on your feelings. It can be difficult for children to express emotions that indicate discontentment. However, asking them to suppress their feelings will not solve the problem. It will be much easier to teach children how to properly express their emotions. This handout will help your children identify their emotions.

GET COMFORTABLE WITH DISCOMFORT

Although feelings can be difficult, they are not always easy to ignore. You can learn to accept and work through uncomfortable emotions. This will help you be more open to accepting them. Children can learn to be sensitive and understanding of all emotions by spending time with them. It builds resilience and allows children to experience all emotions more fully. It takes persistence to develop new habits, but children must learn to accept difficult feelings and not resist them in order to build solid emotional foundations.

Parents and caregivers must find ways to explain the current news to their children in a way that is both appropriate and honest. It can be difficult to find the right balance. Be proactive and open to these difficult conversations. This will help prevent your child from looking elsewhere for information. Be present for your child’s feelings and show healthy emotions.

PLAY

Play is vital for children. Play is essential to learning, cognitive growth and social development. Play is the main way that children process their environment and express their emotions. Playtime will allow you to have a meaningful conversation with your child, and give them a place to express their emotions. Although they may not be able tell you exactly what is happening, play is a natural language for children. It’s one of the best ways to express yourself.

PRACTICE MINIMUM MINDFULNESS

Mindfulness is a way to center one’s attention on the present moment while passively observing any thoughts or feelings that arise. Mindfulness is often used to reduce anxiety and stress. Our attention is constantly drawn in every direction by the world. Mindfulness promotes peace and acceptance in the present and helps us to accept ourselves without judgement. Regular mindfulness practice can make a big difference for your whole family. Children especially benefit from being able to see feelings and not get overwhelmed.

My book, “Be Mindful of Monsters”, was written to help children understand the concept of mindfulness. Ezzy, a gender-neutral nine year old, is the protagonist of the story. Her feelings of anger, sadness and worry turn into monsters. The book discusses the benefits and challenges of accepting these unfavorable emotions. The book is ideal for use in therapy or at school for social emotional learning. It also pairs well with the Mindful Monsters Therapeutic Workbook. This brings the characters and lessons of Mindful Monsters to life through more than 100 pages of interventions.  These meditation tips are also available.

GET SUPPORT WHEN NEEDED

It is best to address mental and emotional problems early in order to avoid them becoming more severe. Talk to a therapist if you feel your child could benefit from specialized treatment.

hosts a new online service that connects parents with child therapists. It offers a variety of useful resources for mental health professionals, including a free tele health platform and a library with interactive therapy exercises.

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