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I HATE When My Kids Are Unhappy

i hate when my kids are unhappy

 

I don’t know about you but when one of my kids is unhappy, I’m not happy.

Their unhappiness is difficult for me to watch. It’s like there’s an invisible string connecting my emotions to theirs - and their unhappiness unsettles my own happiness and stirs up a storm of emotions in me.

Over the years I’ve felt my children’s discontent right alongside them. And for many years I thought it was my job to keep my kids happy. I took responsibility to fix the cause of the unhappiness (solve the problem), fix their feelings and make it all better again - for both of us!

I have since learned that no one is happy all the time. Everyone feels sad, angry, frustrated, irritated, lonely or unhappy at times.

We have a myriad of feelings we need to learn to live with. Strong feelings are healthy and normal. A part of growing up is for children to learn to recognize, name and regulate their big feelings. We need to teach children how to be in charge of their own emotions.

Here are 5 ways to help your child get comfortable with their emotions.

1. Support your child’s expression of all their feelings. Let them move through their emotions at their own pace rather than trying to manage their feelings or convince them how they should feel. Stop saying, “You’re okay” or “Don’t cry” or “You’re not really mad about that, are you?” Rather, sit beside them. Mirror what happened. Acknowledge what they might be feeling in the moment and validate those feelings.

2. Teach your child to recognize and name their feelings. Kids feel less overwhelmed and more in control when they are able to communicate their emotions. As the saying goes, “If you can name it, you can tame it.”

3. Don’t say too much. Us parents are doers. We jump right in and want to fix. Resist the urge to cure their unhappiness. Actively listen to what they have to say and quietly allow space for your child to talk about their experience. Listen but don’t fix (as hard as that is to do). Be patient with the process as young children take time to organize their thoughts.

4. Respect their feelings and offer suggestions for the handling of their emotions. “Wow, I can see you’re feeling angry! Let’s go run and jump so you can get those angry feelings out.” Or “You are feeling so sad. Would you like to draw a picture of your sadness?”

5. Connect. Pay attention to your own feelings so you can be available for your child. Make eye contact and take time to get on your child’s level where you can make a real connection, draw them in and take in what they have to say.

I have come to learn that rescuing kids from their big emotions sabotages their growing, and their ability to understand, tolerate and work through their own emotions.

I know that in reality I cannot be responsible for how my children will feel. My kids will learn a lot in life through their struggles and failures. They don’t need me to save them from their feelings. They must go through some hard times with strong emotions which will build their resilience and strengthen their character.

My kids need me to support them when they put themselves out there and try new things. They need to know I am in their corner as they experience life – the times they are feeling happy and when they are feeling not so happy. No judgement. No correction. Just support.

Changing patterns of behavior is hard and it can be confusing to try new things.
If you relate to any of this information and want to learn more about how I can help you, or if you want to schedule a free phone conversation to see if my work is right for your family, please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Heart of Connecting

My work is dedicated to supporting parents and early childhood educators in understanding and reducing challenging behavior in young children at home and in the preschool classroom.

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