Posted by: coachingparents | October 28, 2009

Outlet for Difficult Feelings

by Danielle Koprowski

Many parents struggle with handling children who are having an emotional meltdown. It is our gift to our children if we can teach them how to handle strong emotions in a way that is safe for everyone.

There are two types of emotions that present the most challenge to parents, sorrow and anger. The reason these emotions are so difficult for many parents is that they have never or rarely had the experience of processing these emotions fully themselves.

When a child is sad and needs to grieve over the loss of something like a broken toy, or the inability to go to the park, parents often try to talk kids out of their feelings, distract them or use some other tactic to get them to stop crying. All we need to do in these situations is allow the child to cry, be there with them, listen and validate their experience.

This requires that we become comfortable with crying and really, this is so much easier than trying to get the crying to stop. I remember when I first learned about this it was such a relief. I no longer had to try to fix the situation. I could just  be there, listen and comfort. That was doable, trying to figure out how to change reality was not.

Anger can be even more perplexing. Most of us have trouble handling anger because when we were children, if someone was angry that meant that someone was going to get hurt either emotionally or physically. That is a scary prospect especially when viewed from the eyes of a child, helpless to affect the situation.

There are many safe avenues for releasing anger. Of course, we need to learn how to handle it safely ourselves and model that for our children. For myself, I have a huge corduroy throw pillow and a plastic bat. When I hit the pillow it makes a very satisfying noise. The harder I hit it, the louder the sound. I use this in front of my son to show him how I can handle my anger without hurting anyone. And now he uses it as well.

There are many other ways to allow children to release anger, such as punching bags, ripping up paper, yelling, pounding clay, etc. This is an area where you can be creative and find ways that are satisfying and safe. Pillow fights are another great way to deal with anger. The rule in our house is you have to let go of the pillow (so no one can get hurt). Generally it starts off angry and then turns into fun.

What are the ways you can find to allow your kids to have their feelings and handle them skillfully?

Danielle Koprowski
Free To Be Parenting Support
ACPI Certified Coach for Parents



  1. Your blog is certainly helpful! Hope you enjoy mine:

    Dr. Sue: HOW TO BE HAPPY IF…You’re Angry

    Hugs 2 U Dr. Sue

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