As grownups we often expect children to rationalize and reason instead of have emotions. In a general way of speaking, we expect them to think like a fully developmentally grownup.
When something happens, we tell them it’s not a big deal and they shouldn’t get upset. We tell them that they shouldn’t feel a certain way in specific situations. We teach kids that what they are feeling is not ok.
When I was growing up, this happened to me. I was a pretty sensitive child and so I would have a lot of emotions and would often cry as an expression of them.
When I grew up, I found it is hard for me to express how I feel in a certain moment. I have to analyze it and think about it instead of just feel. I am still being told that my feelings are wrong and that I shouldn’t feel the way I do. I am still told that whatever the situation may be is irrelevant or not important enough to get upset.
So here’s my take on it:
I am upset. That’s just a fact. Something happened and I feel a certain way. I shouldn’t have to explain my feelings. I shouldn’t have to feel bad for having these emotions. I feel something and sure I know it’s not as bad as people without a home or people who have much less than me. I’m not trying to say that it is as bad or worse than that. But to me, in that moment, it’s a big deal. Telling me that I shouldn’t feel the way I do, makes me feel like my feelings are irrelevant. And that’s not ok.
So when someone is upset, whether it is a 6 year old kid who got mad at their friend for taking their jump rope or a 22 year old who is upset with something in their life, let them feel it. Their emotions are valid. Their problem is important to them in that moment. Tomorrow it won’t matter, but in that moment, they need to feel like it’s ok to feel the way they do. They need support and they need someone to allow them to express themselves. They need someone who will just listen and not judge.