This Is How Parents Can Deal with Big Feelings


Everyone has big feelings but what we do with them is as individual as any other part of us. When the holiday season is approaching we often focus on how we will get somewhere or what we need to buy or bring while our feelings are swirling around about family and childhood experiences. Some of the best prep we can do for upcoming holidays is begin to decide how we will cope with these feelings so they do not overpower us. We do not get to choose our feelings. Feelings come and go like the beats of our heart but what we can do is decide what we are going to do with them. That is where our power is.

If you know that anger can consume you at family visits build in some time alone. In a perfect world you could talk about it with parents, partners etc but sometimes the discussions do not go the way we hope. So, take time for yourself, walk, and find a gym, a park, a coffee shop, and a bookstore. Use these outings as a way to bring quiet, even for 10 minutes into your day.

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Limit the amount of time you focus on your problem to once a day for a limited number of minutes. This allows you to think about your feelings, address your frustrations or stew but after the allocated time set it down. The problem you are seeing will more then likely be there the next day too, so like anything else you do in your day manage the time you spend with it.

Try to remind yourself that the amount of time you spend worrying about the problem grows the anxiety; the way a lot of rain grows the weeds. If you want them to stop growing, slow down the amount of time you spend anticipating the problem.

Talk back to any negative feelings about yourself. You don’t have to believe what you are saying but sometimes talking the talk helps until you can walk the walk.

When we are parents half of the work we do is parenting our children and the other half is re-parenting ourselves.  The gift that keeps on giving with our children is staying emotionally present and connected to ourselves. The work is hard, on going and can bring amazing joy and peace into our lives.

By Marsha Greenberg M.S., M.S. W., is a therapist in NYC & the author of Raising Your Toddler.

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