Your goal as a parent is not to teach your child such such self-control that he ignores or stifle his feelings. Rather it is to teach him a healthy way to express them without hurting himself or others.
Teach your child to express herself, using these five guidelines:
Teach your child to think about his words.
Your child needs to know that words cannot be taken back, that words are powerful weapons that can wound others. You might help him learn to empathize by asking, “would you like it if I said that to you?”
Basically, this is teaching your child the art of tactfulness. Little kids know nothing about this, and that’s okay, they’re little. I don’t expect a three year old to understand that brutal honesty–you’re fat! Why is your skin wrinkly?—is not always the kindest. It’s your job to teach them as they grow to think about their words and the effect they can have on others.
Teach your child to disagree with calmness, respect, and reasoning.
Your child does not have to agree with everything you say. Encourage her to think for herself, instead of telling her she is a smart aleck.
However, you can teach your child how to disagree agreeably. I always told my kids, I will listen to anything you have to say, as long as you say it calmly. If you want to be rude, I will not listen.
When you teach your child to think about his words and disagree calmly, he is learning how to make an argument for himself and think through his reasoning.
Teach your child how to express anger.
It’s okay for your child to be angry and to say she’s angry, but it’s not okay for her to throw or break things.
I know one mom who tells her kids to put their anger in their feet and walk away. After they have had a chance to cool off, they should come back and resolve the issue. This gives her kids a chance to think before they says something they will regret. It also gives them an outlet to their emotions.
Another mom I know says this to her kids: “I can’t understand you when you’re crying, but go ahead and cry and when you’re done, we will try to fix it.”
When our daughter pitched fits, we always told her to go to her room and vent her frustration. Sometimes she sobbed, sometimes she screamed, sometimes she just ranted. But doing it in her room allowed her to vent and when she was done, we could finally talk. As long as your child is not hurting himself, breaking things, or hurting someone one else, venting safely is okay. Perhaps a punching pillow?
Teach your child that it’s important to work out problems with other people, even if she agrees to disagree.
It’s not healthy for her to run away, ignore, or stifle feelings. Her relationships will be stronger as she gets older if she learns how to confront, communicate and work through problems instead of brushing them away.
Use these four guidelines to craft your own parenting strategy on how to teach your child to handle his emotions. Verbal vomit may be cute from little tykes who don’t know any better, but it’s downright ugly in adults.
Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks. She authored the Sports Parenting Survival Guide Series and has recently launched a podcasting series for sports parents.You can also find her on Facebook , Twitter and Youtube.