Something bad has happened in your child’s life. Maybe a friend acted rude to him, maybe something he was looking forward to fell through, or maybe he received a consequence from you. When something happens in your kid’s life and they feel mad or sad, what should we do? And what should we allow them to do?
I feel that often kids’ feelings are overlooked. Adults tell them to “move on” or “that happens to everyone.” This minimizes how your kid feels. Try these tips instead:
1. Acknowledge how he feels. “I’m sorry your friend hurt your feelings. That stinks.”
2. Let him know it is okay to be sad for a little while. Suggest that he spend time doing something to express his feelings in a safe way. Drawing, listening to music, writing, running, etc.
3. If he is really feeling upset, I suggest throwing a little pity party. A pity party is where your kid can cry or yell by himself. Allow him the space to really feel his feelings. (NOTE: if your child has been known to self-harm or attempt suicide, participate in the pity party with him. He should NOT be left alone.) I suggest places such as the bathroom or bedroom. Ask your child to set his own time limit on how long his pity party will last but no longer than thirty minutes. Then your kid should do suggestion #2. Find a safe way to let out any feelings still unresolved.
4. Have your kid do something he enjoys and that usually makes him happy. Maybe talking to a friend, watching a favorite show, taking a bath, dancing, etc
This may need to be repeated a few times depending on the situation.
Stefanie F. Pisarkiewicz, LPC
Experience and information from a counselor and mother- sharing her two cents on children and teens.