Dealing With Children’s Feelings

A Great Idea …

“Fish swim, birds fly, and people feel. Children cannot help how they feel, but they are responsible for the way they express these feelings. Thus they cannot be held responsible for their feelings but only for their behavior.” (Child psychologist, Haim Ginott, in his book, Between Parent and Child, p. 117)

In Other Words …

When we try to stifle children’s feelings, we make them frustrated and confused. And we don’t teach them to understand their feelings and to manage them. Many parents are surprised to find that the best way to respond to children’s strong feelings is not with correction or lectures. It is best to show compassion.

How This Applies to You …

The next time your child is expressing strong feelings, try showing that you genuinely understand. Try saying in words what you are seeing: “You really feel strongly about this, don’t you!” “You are very upset.” “I wonder if you feel embarrassed.” As you show compassion and describe their feelings, they are likely to settle themselves down and become open to solutions.

To Find Out More …

For more great ideas (or to share your ideas), visit our Navigating Life’s Journey blog.

For an excellent (and free!) program on parenting, see The Parenting Journey at and, if you have children less than 6 years of age, check out See the World Through My Eyes.

For more in-depth reading, we recommend Between Parent and Child by Haim Ginott or Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman.

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