Parenting Question: Should You Teach Your Kids To Express Their Feelings?
Many popular parenting books talk about just how important it is to let your kids express their feelings. They say you need to validate their emotions.
They say temper tantrums are normal for two year olds (and three year olds, four year olds, even five year olds!) – and they say that sulking and depressed, detached behavior is normal for teens.
You should encourage this, they say, after all, you’re letting your child “express his or her feelings.” But is this really the healthiest choice for children?
It’s true that children, as human beings, should learn to identify feelings. They should know when then feel one way or another because emotions are human, and it’s good to be able to identify them.
But it’s important for you to understand that young children are not logical creatures. Telling them “you feel angry” doesn’t do any good at all. If anything, it’s just going to make a precocious five year old who knows how to talk you in circles.
They understand that parroting you and saying “I’m angry” is a good way to manipulate you (“oh sweetie, I know that mama makes you so angry”) – but they don’t really have a good understanding of emotion.
As children reach school age they begin to understand their own emotions more, and you can explain more to them about anger, sadness, frustration, etc. However, outside of understanding emotion from a logical standpoint, it’s not healthy to give your children unrestrained emotional expression.
There’s a reason most people are horrified when they see a toddler having a tantrum in the store… it’s the same reason they’re horrified when they see a grown man yelling at the clerk in the same store. Temper tantrums are not acceptable expressions of emotion.
Children do not have tantrums because they “can’t express themselves.” Children have tantrums for the same reasons adults do – they’re angry. And it’s not anymore OK for a child to express their anger with a fit than it is for an adult.
Lets look at that sulky teenager, too. When you see a grown woman manipulating her husband by sulking and whining you feel almost resentful towards her and her manipulative ways.
A sulky teen has learned to manipulate in the same way. Just like the sulky wife, they’re so wrapped up in their own “poor little me” attitude and so focused on how the world has wronged them that they have a perpetually sour attitude.
It’s not right to let your children have unrestrained emotional expression. Kids need to learn that the world doesn’t revolve around them. If something makes them angry, they need to learn to either let go and move on, or they need to learn to pro-actively change it.
If you toddler is throwing himself down on the floor because you wouldn’t give him a snack, that’s NOT an okay emotional expression. He needs to learn to wait patiently for the next meal – it doesn’t matter how small his tummy is. Toddlers around the world learn to wait for mealtime… without tantrums.
Older children and teens who develop whiny, sulking attitudes need to learn that that world does not revolve around them. Just like the angry child must learn, they must learn that if something isn’t going well for them, it’s their job to change it, or to deal with it.
The last thing you want is self-absorbed, angry, depressed children. These kids grow into self-absorbed adults who have problems with relationships.
They may even be seriously unhappy because they’re always counting on somebody or something else to cheer them up. They never learned that they’re in charge of their own lives and emotions. They just learned that expressing their emotions was a great way to manipulate others.
Copyright © Kristen Burgess
Kristen writes a lot of articles just because she has so much to say and needs something to do with it all. She also likes creating websites – visit her newest one about the useful pet play pen and how you and your furbaby can benefit from dog play pens.
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) for Kids - Tapping techniques to help kids manage their emotions
- Talking to Toddlers: Dealing with the Terrible Twos and Beyond – High quality audio course for stressed-out parents of children aged 2 and above. Created by an expert in NLP and Ericksonian Hypnosis.
- No-Nonsense Parenting For Today’s Teenager – How to feel like a good parent even when your teenager hates you.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com & Photo source duchesssa
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