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ON TRAINS, TUNNELS & TEACHING YOUR KIDS TO EMBRACE THEIR EMOTIONS

October 29, 2018
ON TRAINS, TUNNELS & TEACHING YOUR KIDS TO EMBRACE THEIR EMOTIONS

A crying child is a dilemma – something that needs to be solved or remedied as soon as possible, right? Well, actually, according to more current findings, it turns out we shouldn’t be so quick to avert our young children from their tears. Instead, child-care professionals are now recommending that parents allow their kids’ emotional trains to pass through the experience tunnel before offering solutions.

Let’s back up and explain the train-and-tunnel analogy:

TRAINS, TUNNELS & TEARS

Think of difficult feelings like anger, frustration and sadness as tunnels, and us as the trains travelling through them, to emerge at a peaceful light at the end once we've gone through it. There are no side-exits, stopping in the middle leaves you in darkness and rushing the process doesn't help. The only way out is through.

HOW TO USE INCORPORATE IT INTO YOUR PARENTING STYLE

As parents, our first response to an extreme display of emotion form our children (screaming, crying, howling on the floor, throwing objects), are to reason with them from our point of few. I.e. if a toddler is having a melt-down at bedtime because they left their security blanket at day care and doesn’t want to go to bed without it, we may immediately a) tell them it’s just one night and it’s only a stuffed toy, b) to a be a big boy or girl, etc, c) make plans to fetch it. In doing so, we hope to make the situation less scary, but in reality, we are trying to intercept their journey through the tunnel. 

The key lies in letting them feel the feeling in its entirety before seeking the solution together. Let them cry. No, it’s not great if you’re in public, but hey, parenting isn’t always a walk in the park. As parents, our job is to:

Provide comfort through the frustration.

Draw out our child’s cleansing tears

Show empathy to our child’s struggle

Allow the life lesson to be learned naturally—not through preaching

Support our child’s journey through the emotional tunnel

Try to adapt this strategy at home and see if it makes a difference in the way that your child responds to difficult emotions. Keep an eye on the blog in coming weeks and months as we share more advice on parenting in the modern age. 

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