Ever heard the marriage advice, always express your concerns about a situation using the “I feel” method?  Its easier said than done, but still a noble goal to work towards.  But marriage is not the topic of this post.

I realized something after reading a different blog post on this topic that when it comes to our kids how often do we really express how something makes us feel.

Very often parenting is telling kids to do one thing or another because I said so.  Or when kids misbehave, it’s about correcting the behavior, but almost never do we express openly how that behavior made us feel.

Over the past few months, I have been working with my oldest to understand what she is feeling or how a situation felt and how it made others feel.

Recently my son said something to my youngest that hurt her feelings and at this moment I knelt down next to my son and asked “how does this make you feel when you say things like that,” usually the response is angry.  Then I ask how do you think it made the other person feel after you said that.  Usually, the answer is “sad.” And then we both agree that it is not something we are supposed to intentionally do.

I feel like getting kids to recognize how they feel in a moment and how they make others feel through there actions is a practice to build empathy and compassion for others.

But lately, I feel I haven’t been doing enough in this area to really move the needle, but I realized that I am not modeling this as a parent.   I need to lead by example and say things like “I feel really sad when you guys don’t listen” or “I feel frustrated when the living room is a mess and its time to leave.”

If we want our kids to learn to express, their life in “How I feel” statements they first need to see it modeled.

It was really interesting the first night I did this, the kids looked interested in making sure I didn’t feel sad anymore.  It was almost like a magic trick, I kept thinking is this really working.  I just have to say how I feel to the kids when they do something, and they will work change directions.

I know these results are not going to be perfect and as the weekend went on, the magic wore off a little but I still believe that if I want them to process how they are feeling more and feel safe saying it to each other then I need to practice it daily.

It goes back to why the marriage advice works so well because in a space of love for each other when you express how you feel to the other person, they generally want to help change that or correct the situation.  Because when we love each other it is possible to still hurt each other’s feeling unintentionally.  But when you express it in a way that is reflective of, “we” the solution is on the other person to remedy it.


July 2024