How to help your children deal with their feelings

Most of us learned to deal with our feelings by trial and error, without parental guidance. Some people cope with unpleasant feelings like anger and anxiety by ignoring them. However, the feelings do not disappear; instead, they manifest in different ways, such as illness or addictions. Others respond to unpleasant emotions by lashing out at others, either physically or verbally.

Your children may express their feelings during the separation/divorce and transition period by acting out or regressing to younger behaviors. They may need your help to learn how to act on their feelings in a way that does not harm themselves or others.

The first step is to help children to identify what they are feeling. Next, create a feeling-friendly environment by validating their feelings with statements that tell them that the feeling is real and okay. Lastly, discuss the causes behind the feeling and, if appropriate, problem-solve. After all, unpleasant feelings are simply clues that something is wrong and may require action and attention.