Feelings Come First

A Great Idea …

“When children are in the midst of strong emotions, they cannot listen to anyone. They cannot accept advice or consolation or constructive criticism. They want us to understand what is going on inside them, what they are feeling at that particular moment.” (Haim Ginott, child psychologist, in his book, Between Parent and Child, p. 82)

In Other Words …

Our children’s strong emotions send us a clear invitation: Deal with the feelings before worrying about anything else. A child may want a few words of understanding: “Wow! You’re really upset!” or “You’re very disappointed.” Some children may want to have a few minutes to settle down. Some may want to be hugged. The feelings must be dealt with before solutions can be discussed.

How This Applies to You …

The next time your child is angry or upset, deal with the emotions before trying to deal with the problem. Consider how your child likes to be comforted. After the child has calmed down, then you can talk about what happened and discuss what needs to be done to prevent the situation from happening again.

To Find Out More …

For an excellent (and free!) program on parenting, see The Parenting Journey at and if your children are younger than six, check out See the World Through My Eyes.

For more in-depth reading, we recommend Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman or Soft-Spoken Parenting by H. Wallace Goddard.

5 replies on “Feelings Come First”

Wow, thank you for this little awakening for me. I can definitely see what I’ve been doing wrong all these years to my kids and my poor husband:(:( Thank goodness they are so forgiving of me!

I pray i’m forgiven for my ignorance. Thank you for this truth. I’m glad i still have time to correct my ways while the kids are still young.

I just really love this. I just finished reading “Between Parents and Child.” Oh, how I wish I’d read this 20 years ago when I was beginning to be a parent! And hopefully my three 10 year olds will grow up feeling the difference. (though I felt uneasy about the counsel about anger in the book…)

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