Expert Parenting Advice
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How to teach your child to deal with their negative emotions

I got into a huge fight with my 4 year old daughter today.

She was angry at me, because she wanted to fasten her car seat belt herself. But I was in a hurry, so I clicked the last buckle...big mistake.

All way to kindergarten she was shouting at me and angrily calling me an X (which is the worst letter, according to her).

When we got to kindergarten, she shouted "I don't like you." I lost my temper and shouted back "Well, then I don't like you too..."

As the words left my mouth, I immediately regretted it.

All day, I felt like a bad parent. How could I say something like that to my child?

But then, once I got over feeling bad about myself, I realized that this was just another opportunity. An opportunity to teach my daughter how to make up and how to apologize.

So when I picked her up from kindergarten, I sat her down, and we discussed our morning. I told her that I was sorry, and how much I regretted saying what I said. Then...she did the same. She told me that she was sorry, and that she also regretting saying what she said.

We had a special moment of connection, both admitting our mistakes and apologizing. I was so proud of her.

By reframing the negative experience as an opportunity, it turned into a positive experience. I got an opportunity to show my daughter that everyone makes mistakes, and then how to apologize and make up for it.

I learned about the importance of seeing negative experiences as teaching opportunities from Dr. Hilary Mandzik, a licensed psychologist and host of the parenting podcast Raised Resilient with Dr. Hilary.

When I interviewed her, Dr. Hilary shared why it is so important to let your kids feel negative emotions.

You see, when our kids are upset or angry, our first instinct is to try to get them to calm down.

Instead, Dr. Hilary recommends that when your kids are feeling negative emotions, like anger, sadness, or fear, it is an opportunity to teach them how to deal with those emotions.

Your goal should not be to remove the negative emotions, but rather to show your child how to deal with them.

And then, if your child is feeling scared or sad or otherwise just emotional, my whole mantra around this is just let the feelings be. Just let your child feel what they’re feeling. Don’t try to make them feel better. Don’t talk them out of it. We teach emotion regulation, which is essentially learning how to do the right things with our feelings, by letting our kids feel, in our safe presence.

Dr. Hilary Mandzik

In the interview with Dr. Hilary, she shares what you should say to your child when they are experiencing negative emotions. She also explains how doing this will help them develop the ability to regulate and manage their own emotions.

Also, very importantly, Dr. Hilary shares what to say to yourself when your child is upsetting you, for a better chance of staying calm.