Feeling sad is normal and necessary
There is no question that parents ultimately want their kids to be happy. Very few of us enjoy it when our kids are sad or mad, jealous or hurt.
One of our most important parenting jobs is to keep our children safe. Another is to support their physical, social, emotional and intellectual development. The real trick is deciding how we will succeed in both of these jobs concurrently.
This week, we were a bit shocked to read an article in which a parent raised concerns that birthday invitations were a new form of discrimination in his daughter’s second grade class. Frustrated by this “Two-tiered classmate situation (those invited and those not invited,)” he wanted the school to create a policy requiring that “all kids must be invited to the party or none can be.”
Julie talked with Ryan Jesperson of 630CHED (her interview starts at 1:30 in the sound clip,) earlier this week about the need for parents to allow their kids to learn to feel feelings and to know that they can get through the bad feelings and move forward.
There is no question that all of us, kids included, will have to face difficult feelings and hard situations during our lifetimes. Our decision as parents then, is to know when to “protect” and when to support.
Supporting involves taking the time to teach our kids the following about feelings:
– feelings are normal
– feelings change
– we are not our feelings (just because we sometimes have mean feelings doesn’t mean that we are mean people)
– vocabulary for feelings (there are lots of feelings words – we don’t have to just say bad, mad, sad and glad)
– we can learn to express our feelings respectfully (this starts around age 3)
– we can find safe ways to let our feelings out of our bodies
– we can use our feelings and experiences to teach us empathy and compassion (starting around age 5)
– we can survive feelings
– we can ask others if we need help with feelings
One of the greatest gifts of parenthood is that we have many years to learn our craft and our children have many years to learn the lessons they need to learn. When we allow our little children to experience their little hardships and support them with teaching and love, they learn that they can survive. They build resilience. As they grow older, they are exposed to different challenges and grow from those as well.
Allow your children to learn that feelings are normal and necessary.