Understanding Feelings: A New Way to Help Kids and Parents

Grown-up reactions significantly impact children's emotional development.

Imagine a four year old, excitedly building a tower, only to see it knocked down by another kid. The child feels a mixture of emotions - hurt, panic, frustration, and not knowing what to do. Then, a grown-up comes by and asks, "Honey, what happened?" They seem calm and caring. The child gets to share their feelings without being interrupted. It's calming, and they can go back to building your tower feeling better.

How Grown-Ups React Matters

The above example shows that the way in which adults react to children matters.

Remember a time when you were little and felt angry, sad, or scared. How did the grown-ups around you react? Some of us were lucky and got support, but others might have been told to stop crying or sent away. This matters because it can affect how we deal with feelings as grown-ups.

Three Ways Kids Learn About Feelings

1. Hiding Feelings: Keeping Them Inside

Some kids learn to hide their feelings because they think it's not okay to express them. As adults, these hidden feelings return when life gets tough, and that grown up kid may find it easier to cope by drinking excessively or staying busy all the time.

2. Showing Anger: When Feelings Burst Out

Then there are kids who might express their feelings with loud words and anger. People might call them "naughty" or "trouble," even though they're just reacting to what's happening around them. As grown-ups, this can turn into bullying or being too hard on themselves.

3. Expressing Feelings: Finding a Healthy Way

Kids who grow up feeling accepted, where all feelings are okay, learn to express themselves in healthy ways. As adults, they might maintain a journal, talk to a friend, or do something active to deal with their feelings.

Parents and Helping Kids with Feelings

Parents often want to keep their kids happy all the time, but that's really hard. It's better to create a safe space for kids to share their feelings without being judged. Instead of fixing everything right away, parents can just listen and let kids talk about what's bothering them.

Here is a story that a mom of teenagers shares.

At first, she always wanted to keep her kids happy, but that didn't work. She learned that creating emotional harmony was more important. By letting her kids express their feelings without judgment, she saw them becoming emotionally smart.

Learning from Each Other: How Kids Teach Kids

Kids learn from what they see. In one family, a 10-year-old girl learned how to listen to her upset 5-year- old sister. She did it just like her mom did for her. This shows that kids can learn empathy and compassion by watching how grown-ups act.

Making Things Better: Changing the Way We Learn and Teach

1. Helping Parents Understand Feelings

What if parents got help to understand and respond to their kids' feelings better? Teaching parents how to listen and be compassionate could make a big difference.

2. Parents Checking Their Own Feelings

Parents could also think about their own feelings from when they were kids. This might help them not pass on any tough stuff to their own kids. It's like making sure parents feel good, so they can help their kids feel good too.

3. Everyone Expressing Feelings, No Matter the Gender

Children should both feel okay expressing their feelings. Boys can cry, and girls can be loud if they want.This way, everyone can grow up feeling good about themselves.

4. Talking Instead of Punishing

Instead of punishing kids, grown-ups can listen and set limits with love. This way, kids learn what's okay and what's not, without feeling punished.


Making feelings important could change how kids grow up. Imagine if we all focused on connecting, understanding each other, and listening with kindness. It could make the world a better place.

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