Why you should encourage your kids to express their emotions

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just feel the good feelings? If we could bypass what makes us feel disappointed, sad or uncomfortable? It would be great to just feel love or joy, but feelings are a full-package deal. You either feel them all, or it’s difficult to feel anything at all. That doesn’t mean you have to suffer when challenging feelings arise. You can acknowledge worry or anger without becoming worried and angry. They’re just feelings; they don’t have to become ways of being.

Too often we feel something and push it away in fear of being too angry or too “weak.” But denying feelings only represses them-it shoves them down and turns them into something else like anxiety, impatience or judgment.

Emotions aren’t the problem; it’s our inability to feel our emotions that gets us in trouble. If we could just let a feeling come up, to allow for tears or admit and address something that makes us angry, we wouldn’t waste our energy pretending that things don’t bother us.

Humans naturally have an array of emotional experiences, but if we choose to distract ourselves and not feel them, it’s called numbing. Numbing comes in many forms: alcohol, food, drugs, shopping, technology, and the most socially acceptable form, busyness.

Too often we stay perpetually busy so we don’t have to deal with how we feel. We stay focused on anything but what’s going on inside.

Kids know how to have a good cry, or stomp around and get their anger out, and they know how to express disapproval or call out something that seems unjust.

But what do we do? We tell them to stop it, we tell them they are being manipulative, we tell them they are too dramatic, we tell them they are too sensitive.

We teach them their emotions aren’t valuable. We teach them to numb out and pretend.

What if we felt our feelings instead? Then we could teach our kids to do the same. We could share tools to appropriately discuss and release what they feel, and teach them to honor feelings rather push them away.

We could teach them that emotions are normal, an essential part of being human, and regardless if it’s a good or not-so-good feeling, they have our permission to feel it.

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