That’s a Big Feeling

That's a Big Feeling

I don’t know about you, but big feelings are everywhere right now. Big sadness, big longing, big frustration, big fear, big anger.

Our children have been taught they are most acceptable when their feelings don’t inconvenience adults, when they stay small and friendly. They:

  • shouldn’t look angry,
  • shouldn’t get crabby,
  • shouldn’t cry too hard,
  • shouldn’t wallow in self pity,
  • shouldn’t show irritation.

You know, all the things adults do pretty freely around children.

We all need a release—a lifting of the ban on big feelings. If your child shows a sullen face, instead of cheering her up, ask her what she’s feeling. Then ask her to measure her feelings: “How big? This big?” Hold up your hands ten inches apart. Then move them another two feet apart “Or this big? Or bigger? Can you show me?” Works especially well with littler kids.

You can also model bigness by stomping feet lightly. Then harder/louder. Then REALLY BIG STOMPS.

You might use a mildly cranky voice, then annoyed, then full out petulant. Ask him to pick which matches how he’s feeling. Use that voice for the next ten minutes—really getting into it. The play-acting is a great release. You can even join a tantrum and ask: “Am I doing it right? Angry enough?”

For teens, you can say: “How big? Like a cup of coffee big or half a pizza big? Or is this time for death metal turned all the way up?” In other words, even just naming the scale gives permission and allows your child/teen to be seen/known. Oh and death metal is really big so fair warning.

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

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