If there is one truth I wish I could convey to parents it's that, you are not responsible for your child's feelings. It is not our responsibility to protect children from "negative" emotions. Anger, frustration, sadness, grief, and disappointment are all a part of life.
Our role as parents and educators is to give children the tools and skills they need to cope with the inevitable negative emotions of life.
There is a difference between being responsible for children’s emotions and caring for their emotions. If you feel responsible, you take your child's emotions personally. You feel it's your job to whisk the problem away, fix it at all cost, and keep your child happy all the time. This approach WILL lead to frustration, guilt and burn out because it's an IMPOSSIBLE role to fulfill! On the other hand, caring for their emotions means you understand and empathize with the emotion, validate their feelings, hold space for your child to process the emotions in their own way, and you provide the necessary skills so your child can learn to process big emotions in a healthy and effective way. By caring for their emotions in this way, you can be their oak tree.
For more on responding to children’s negative feelings, visit Bounce Back Parenting’s post, You Can Be Kind, They Can Be Angry:
“Unconditional Presence: The Oak Tree”
Imagine a great Oak Tree. It knows where it stands, and it holds powerfully to its position. But it doesn't defend its position — it's simply there.
You can drive a car into the massive trunk of the Oak Tree, and the car will be smashed while the tree remains standing. It's not standing against you, and it doesn't take your destructive behavior personally. It just remains rooted... focused... present. Unconditionally.
Now imagine that you are the Oak Tree... How does it feel to be so powerfully positioned? Isn't it nice to know that no one can uproot you? Would you even bother to resist? Or would you simply relax and enjoy being right where you want to be?
Next time you feel "uprooted" by your child's behavior, emotions, or any other conditions, remember the unconditional presence of the Oak Tree. Stand rooted in the ground of infinite Well-Being.
There is nothing to resist... All is well.
By Scott Noelle
Public Facebook post on 2006-10-08