The other day my children and I had to face some tough news. It was one of those things that you didn’t want to hear, the type of news that brings down your hope in a matter of seconds. All of the sudden, we felt discouraged and exhausted. My children were quiet and didn’t have the energy to express what they were feeling. We all decided to have some time alone and try to process what we had just heard.
When my children are hurting my immediate desire is to hug them and tell them it’s going to be ok. With time I have learned that children, as well as adults, need to allow themselves to feel different emotions and that includes sadness, disappointment, and frustration. This doesn’t mean that those emotions define or control our actions, but it does mean that they are real and we need to deal with them. Teaching our children to deal with difficult situations will help them in the future when they face life on their own. Here are some ideas on how to get started:
- Time alone and time together: As parents many times we think we know how our children feel and we are quick to offer solutions to their problems. But we don’t always know, and assuming that we do is disrespectful to them. Giving a child the opportunity to sort his or her emotions and to recognize what they are feeling is a great tool for their future. They don’t need someone offering them quick solutions, they need to be aware of why they feel the way they do and then use the help from someone to sort things out. For this reason, children need some time alone, but not too long because sad feelings can be heavy and drag them down.
- Let’s talk: Children need to learn to share their feelings. Relationships are built through time and creating a positive channel of communication may be a long process. Generate spaces where your child feels free to express his or her feelings; the sooner you start this, the easier it will be for your child to open up about any topic.
- No judging: One of the reasons children may not share what they are feeling is because they are afraid of being judged. Your children want your approval and if you tell them: “That’s silly, that would never happen” or “Just forget it and move on” they’ll feel judged and start monitoring what they share with you because they don’t want to feel “dumb” for telling you something.
- Now what: Once causes of feelings have been identified it is easier to define what to do, to see what things are in your child’s power to change and the ones that aren’t.. Focusing on what they can do and not losing their peace over what they can’t will help them get on the right track without stressing about a situation.
-Look at me: Your children are watching you, especially during difficult situations. They will do as they see you do. Actions are powerful, so walk the talk. Don’t be afraid to express what you are feeling, but also try to keep a good attitude through it all.
You can learn from every situation; you can grow and use it as experience for the future and you can even help others as you go through the most difficult times in your life. It all depends on how you decide to tackle them.
After some deep searching, some pouring out of emotions, and honest expression of what we were feeling, my children and I made the decision that we will do what we can to fix this situation, but we will not allow stress or a sense of discouragement. We used this bad news as motivation to keep a positive attitude because that’s how great stories are made and we are determined to make ours a great one.