Talking About Feelings? Bad Parenting Method!

girl in cornerYour child is experiencing a full-scale, body-on-the-floor TANTRUM. He is screaming some incomprehensible, shrill and penetrating sentence; and those little arms and legs, which have no regard for your end tables or walls, are propelling at frightening speeds. To handle this, you:

a.)Calmly walk away. When he is done with his tantrum, he will stop. 

b.)Shriek at your child, “Stop being a baby!” or “I can’t take this anymore!” And later today, when he is happily playing, you will bask in mommy guilt and vow to react differently.

c.)Sit on the floor and say, “Oh my! You are having a mad feeling. Sometimes children have feelings that get very, very big. Let’s talk about it.”

d.)Try not to laugh as you videotape the outburst. Today, you (and all of your Facebook friends) will finally have proof that your child throws tantrums just like his father’s.

If you selected C, your child will someday sit in a psychologist’s office and recount the various ways you ruined his life, because according to a recent article, parents can “screw up their kids” by talking about feelings too much. And the main culprits for a feelings-overloaded childhood are psychologists!

I’ve always assumed that a psychologist has certain parenting moments on lockdown.  Moments like, “Mom, I’m sad that so-and-so wouldn’t play with me today at recess.” And, “Dad, I have something I need to tell you, but you aren’t going to like it.” 

Having a deep understanding of the human mind and emotions should increase your success as a parent. But have you ever considered that, as adults, we need therapists to help us understand those emotions and feelings that are beyond our control and affecting our ability to function as adults – but children need something entirely different.

“When parents talk about feelings too much, they risk giving children the impression that feelings are all-powerful. Parents who regularly defer to a toddler’s tantrum, ask that their school-age child be seated only near children she likes, or excuse a teenager from basic responsibilities because ‘he’s not in the mood’ leave children at the mercy of their own emotions. Life requires that we deal with not getting our way, work with people we don’t enjoy and attend to tasks we dislike. Good parenting requires that we help children cope with these realities.”

As parents, have we become too focused on our child's emotions and feelings? Are we disabling our children by turning them into future adults who will be unable to function without total happiness and understanding? How many of you have had a boss, teacher, partner, or friend approach you and say, “Oh dear. You are having a mad feeling. Let’s talk about it.”

The best part of the article – my personal “ah-ha!” moment – was when the author wrote, “As a mother, I work hard to keep feelings in their proper place: they provide useful feedback about our lives and the choices we’re making, but they are not in charge. Managing discomfort is not the same as denying it … as parents it is not our job to put emotional subtitles to our children’s lives. It is our job to help children use language to bring feelings down to size and to instill confidence that most of life’s challenges can be handled.”

So, the key to parenting is to help your child put his or her feelings aside for the moment and accomplish the task-at-hand. Then, later today, we can all think about our feelings … after we have been responsible, productive people. What a concept!! 

Do you focus too much on emotions and feelings? Comment below!

What do you think?

Talking About Feelings? Bad Parenting Method!

Kimberly Shannon is a wife, a mother, an editor, a writer ... She is always working to find the perfect balance¹! After Kimberly received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism, she worked on two master’s degree programs (Creative Writing, and Marriage and Family Therapy). At various times in her life she has signed up to study Naturopathy, only to back out at the last minute, and humored the idea of returning full-time to the world of dance. Kimberly has also started 10 different children ... More

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4 comments

  1. saying "are you feeling mad?" is not what the author of the article is talking about. this is irresponsible. when i got my addictions counseling certificate we were taught in programing for toddlers and young children it’s important to help them put names on feelings. addicts often failed to learn this skill at a young age and often only have the capacity to express emotions of anger.

  2. Profile photo of Michelle Michelle says:

    I would recommend reading the original article that is referenced by the writer to help clarify the questions that she is asking 🙂

  3. Profile photo of mrsras715 mrsras715 says:

    I disagree that talking about feelings will mess up your child and land them in a therapist’s office when they are grown. As children, they have no idea what to do with these strong emotions they are feeling, especially when it escalates to a tantrum. Why not ask the child what has made them angry or sad? Are they furious because they can’t have a piece of cake before dinner? If they feel like you understand that this makes them upset, they can better accept your rule that desserts are for after a healthy dinner. As adults and parents, I would hope that we would have the emotional intelligence to help them navigate the tricky world that is feelings. Only by understanding them can a child learn to master them, which will benefit them far more than shoving their feelings down for a later time. That should be our goal: to help our children maintain awareness and control of their feelings. It’s hogwash to suggest that talking about feelings only produces a child that thinks they have no control over them. Bad form.

  4. Profile photo of LauraSeelt LauraSeelt says:

    There is a difference between a parent allowing temper tantrums by using feelings as an excuse, and emotionally coaching our children. Emotional coaching is telling a child "look, I get it that you’re angry, but throwing your arms and legs around while screaming isn’t okay behaviour." It allows kids to feel, and label their feelings, and to accept those feelings, but then still choose appropriate behaviour. Letting our kids display poor behaviour because they have a feeling is irresponsible, but dismissing their feelings to get them to an appropriate behaviour is equally so. You gloss over this in your article and it could have done with being discussed more to make your article less confusing. Thanks for telling us how to not parent, but forgetting to give any encouragement or direction on how to parent.

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