My daughter is disappointed this Christmas.
She likes that we do trips for Christmas, but she also really wants some presents. We were talking the other day and she was expressing her frustrations. I immediately felt like I was being attacked and I tried to explain to her how expensive it is if I do presents and a trip, and that I’m too exhausted to go shopping and wrap everything. I really wanted her to see that I’m doing the best that I can, and assure myself that I haven’t failed as a mom.
Then I stopped.
She wasn’t attacking me, she was just feeling disappointed.
I went back to talk to her and apologized. She can totally feel disappointed and it has NOTHING to do with me. My job as a mom is not to make anyone happy because I can’t. I am not that powerful. All I can do is show up as my best self, teach my kids good principles, and love them.
Even if I bought my daughter a lot of presents AND took her on a trip, she still might be disappointed. So, instead of trying to change her opinion I told her to go ahead and feel how she wants to feel. I personally have been working on leaning into any negative emotion I have instead of avoiding it, because when we avoid feeling something negative is when we turn to our buffers to “feel better”.
So instead of teaching my daughter to avoid feeling any negative emotion I would much rather teach her what to do with that emotion when it comes.
What To Do
When your kid is disappointed
Here are a few steps for yourself, or to teach your kids what to do with an emotion when it comes:
Identify the emotion. Not just good or bad, but go more in depth. I feel frustrated, excited, determined, irritated, and so on.
Sit with the emotion. Where do you feel it? In your stomach, head, chest? What does that feel like? Describe what it feels like.
Feel the emotion without reacting to it. For example, if you feel annoyed with someone, and you identify that you’re feeling annoyed and you can describe where and how you feel it, it does NOT mean you then get to treat others poorly because you’re feeling something.
So when your own kids are feeling annoyed, frustrated, or overwhelmed, let them feel it and teach them what to do with it instead of avoiding it and then using their own buffers to try to “feel better”. It’s always easier said than done, but luckily it’s just a skill, so with practice anyone can master it.