Articles that talk about the emotions or feelings and how to receive them

Archive d’étiquettes pour : feelings

This evening, we have one of Léon’s friend home. (Léon is 4 and a half). Léon is very happy about playing with her, but she is not really willing to be with him… Truth to be told: he wants to build an aerial tram, and she doesn’t.
Léon’s blocked: he’s crying, crying, crying.
I decide to follow the guide.
Phase 0: I sit next to him, and try to surround him with my love, he pushes me away.
Phase 1: I stay in front of him, with a tender look, telling him I am here for when he want to talk. In order to not let his crying get to me, I imagine a cup in front of me where his tears can go without touching me, as suggested in « He’s provoking me! ».
Finally, he extends his arms, cuddles, then gets out and explains that he wanted to build an aerial tram with Pauline…
Phase 2: Listening and welcoming feelings
« Yes, I see you feel miserable, you really wanted to make the aerial tram and you really wanted to make it with Pauline. It is sad that she doesn’t want to make it with you, because you love to build things… »
Phase 3: the one I love: giving in fantasy
« It would be great to have a friend who loves building things like you do! So you could build lots of things together… »
Phase 4: the choice
« Let’s see, what’s most important to you ? To build the aerial tram, or to be with Pauline? » Answer: be with Pauline.
« Ok, let’s ask her what she wants to do. » Answer: to draw.
Phase 5: Looking for solutions (coming from me, but better than nothing!)
« I have several ideas of things you could do:
you could draw with her; or you could build your tram in the living room while she draws on your side; or you could ask her if she wants to draw on your tram… »
It is finally the 3rd solution that have been chosen, and they are both playing together!
I feel very happy with myself…


“He’s provoking me!” contains a part dedicated to welcoming the emotions.

Can we ever insist enough on this point?

Faber and Mazlish were already doing this in How to Talk so kids…, in Liberated Parents, Liberated Children, in Siblings without Rivalry, and Isabelle Filliozat does too Understanding children’s emotions, and I’m still skipping some… Welcoming the emotions is key in all conversations, in fact, just as much with children as with adults!

It’s probably on this point that non violent communication connects the most with ideas from positive parenting.

I really think that giving this example to children is contributing to a better society, in which people listen to each other, developing a certain empathy…

In that part, all this isn’t re-exposed, but some ideas are given for the expression of these emotions on a more physical level:

  • Inviting to “shake” the emotion, through moving your arms, dancing…
  • For us: accepting the tears of the child by imaging a container that I hold in front of myself (so I don’t take everything to the heart). It’s the sort of idea that seems a little ridiculous in theory, but I still decided to try it out, and I indeed stayed very relaxed in front of the crying.
  • Hitting a pillow with rage, with wide moves and an open plexus
  • Helping the child control his respiration by getting behind him and wrapping him with your arms.
  • Faced with a situation that scares him repetitively: playing the scary situation with him, to teach him to dominate it.
  • Decreasing sugar quantity!

We recently discussed expressing feelings in front of the attachment figure.

I had a clear example of it yesterday.

Alice (9) had a dentist appointment. This dentist only lets children inside, letting parents outside.
So yesterday, the dentist took one of her milk teeth out to make room for the next one.. and I saw, through the gap in the door, tears that were going silently down her cheeks…
It broke my heart.
She didn’t say anything to the dentist, feared everything with no comment.
Once out, she cried in my arms. She finally was in the right place to express herself…


It’s unbelievable how well this method of validating feelings works with Léon (4 and a half years old) !

I had first learned it in How to talk so kids… then already applied it, and I still do.

Last week, he explains to me that he doesn’t like his summer camp in his school, because in the room that they are in, there aren’t any tables like in his usual classroom, and so they aren’t allowed to eat something on their way in. (Which was apparently his way of taking the time to get into the environment.)
I tell him: “You know what would be great? If there was a hole in the wall of your classroom, that way, you could slip through it to go it your snack on the tables that you like!”
Problem solved.

This morning, we get to school when I notice that we have forgotten the game that we were supposed to bring to share. No problem, Léon tells me that I can just go back home to get it and come back bring it to him. No, I’m not going to do that, it would take me too long… he cries.
I don’t give up: “You know what would be awesome, if our building was just in front of the school. That way, right now, I could just go back get it and bring it for you, and it wouldn’t be too long!” That made him laugh, because in front of the school, it’s a hospital!
No more problem.

I keep on being amazed by this simple trick!

It is rare for us to clearly express what we feel.
Sometimes, it’s to avoid hurting another’s feelings, sometimes, it’s a social norm.
The child looks at us and understands that we mustn’t.
We mustn’t want that this little brother who takes up so much time from mum disappears, we mustn’t want to hit a friend that takes our toys.
Yet, all these feelings are valid. We must of course, nevertheless, make the difference between the wish, and the realizatdion of that wish.
These feelings are valid just because they are, as was explained in Liberated parents, liberated children. (chapter 2: They feel what they feel)
In Understanding children’s emotions, Isabelle Filliozat comes back to this. To prevent the child from feeling, is to decrease his belief in himself, his self-esteem : he is wrong to feel what he feels, he must contain it, he is bad…
No, on the contrary, let’s explain to him that it is normal to feel: “You must be sad that he said that!”, we can even show him that we accept him with his feelings: “I understand that you are mad, I love you all the same.” (Isabelle Filliozat)
Just this morning, we were talking about it with Léon (4 years old). We are going through a period where his little brother (2 years old) won’t stop hitting him. I know it will pass, but meanwhile…Pfff, let’s just say I can’t wait for it to pass!
Anyways, I was talking with Léon, and commenting how anxious we were for Anatole to learn not to hit anymore, and he answered me with this phrase, so true : “I too, sometimes, want to hit him, but I don’t.” I’m just very happy to see that this difference is clear to him.
As for the expression of his feelings, sometimes he also says : “I want to throw Anatole into a volcano!” The message is clear…

A notion that seems simple but that I hadn’t measured before: the ease of expression in front of the figure of attachment. I borrow this term, “figure of attachment” from Isabelle Filliozat.

Where does she describe this phenomenon, I don’t know anymore.

Was it in J’ai tout essayé ! » (« I tried everything ! »), or in “Il me cherche ! » (« He’s provoking me!”), in Understanding children’s emotions?

She uses this term to refer to the person, in the child’s surroundings, often the mother, with whom the child feels close enough to express himself.
And that is why the child sometimes “behaves well” with others, and starts complaining, crying, as soon as his mother appears: because he finally feels safe, and thus finally feels the right to express his feelings.
What a frustration right??

So, to summarize, if the child cries with his mother, it’s because he feels good…
Well…at least good enough to express that he doesn’t feel good!!
A much more positive way to see things!

Sure enough we have all lived moments where we have seen the child show only his emotions in the presence of his figure of attachment…
A concrete personal example.

« Let’s refrain from minimizing the children’s feelings » writes Isabelle Filliozat in Understanding children’s emotions.

Of course, I had already read that in Faber and Mazlish’s books. We are talking about receiving the child’s feelings (or anyone’s for that matter), no deny them, nor neglect them. No use in explaining that « it’s nothing », for him, it is.
It seems easy, it is not, because we don’t see that as the model around us. (funny that I recently saw it in a children’s story that I had read before…)

In Understanding children’s emotions, the writer tells the story of a little boy who bursts in tears when his balloon breaks. Instead of telling him it doesn’t matter, the adult asks :
« What is this balloon for you?
– everything dies! answers the kid, my grandpa died last week. »
Of course it is not always so extreme! but… some cries can hide others…

We should thus wonder about the child’s history, as for our friend’s little girl, recently arrived in this country, who has a hard time falling asleep by herself.

Following this logic, the author writes:
« Always let him express his feeling, accompany his discharge of cries, yells, shivering, without trying to calm him down. To cry, to yell, to shiver are his ways of expressing his suffering, of freeing his tensions, of healing. »
Ok, I get it. But I have a problem: freeing his tensions, he’s giving me some! I have trouble staying calm when I hear yelling…
It seems to me that my 4 year old should be able to better face his frustration and not burst into tears so often. It is also what his extraordinary teacher says.

Then what? How can we let our children express themselves and still stay sane??

Back to the book post

We got it! We have now learned to give in fantasy!.

It is one of the first points that we saw in the first chapter of How to talk so kids will listen, and listen to kids will talk.

Since then, it isn’t rare for us to answer Leon with things like:
“It would be great if we could bring our toys to school…It would be nice if we could eat only chocolate cake!”

This morning, I felt really happy. We were in the car.
Nicolas and I were taking Léon and Anatole to school. Anatole was crying and asking for his teddy bear.
Léon tells him:
“Anatole, it would be great if we could have the teddy bear… unfortunately, it isn’t here.” Anatole stops crying, and Nicolas and I look at each other.

I loved the repetition of the model, because it proved two things:
that we had assimilated it enough for it to have become a model, and especially that Léon had himself integrated it as a method of acceptation of a situation we would prefer different.

Thus, we added another string to his bow!

This chapter builds on what the initial book said: it is important to welcome and validate the child’s feelings to open the discussion.

A theory thus seen already in the first chapter of How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk , and also in Liberated Parents, liberated children.

As a reminder, the different techniques presented are:

Listen with attention
Acknowledge with a word
Give the feeling a name
Give the child his wishes in fantasy

Sometimes, particularly in the case of the teenager, we may need to redirect behavior, remind the core values, at the same time as we receive the feelings.

Teens are going through a difficult transition, and we sometimes we naturally try to reject negative feelings. But we can help them through our listening.

Let’s try to put into words what we think our teenager feels.

We can also share our opinions, but there is a time for everything, we first need to tell our child that he has been heard.

I will only share here one example from the book, which, against the odds, helped me later in a similar situation
Facing her son who realizes he has an uncompleted assignment due the next day, the mother makes comments like « don’t tell me you haven’t done it!  -This is what happens when you don’t plan! « , and the teen closes completely… Instead, another scenario is offered: one where the mother only listens and acknowledges with a word, and we see the teen going on and commenting that he should have planned to begin earlier…

Back to the book post

In the first chapter of How to talk so kids will… Faber and Mazlish suggest creative expression.
So I tried with Leon (3 years) on a day of crisis.

I wish I had kept his drawing to illustrate this point.
He began by drawing a broken line, immediately calmed, and drew the face around. turned out the broken line was the mouth…
By the time he was done drawing, he wasn’t angry anymore!


A few months later, I experienced again with Alice (8 years), who didn’t want us parents to go out at night.

I told her to draw and write what she felt, and the next day, she showed me a page full of comments.
Here again, I unfortunately did not keep the drawing she handed me.
It looked a bit like this other version, that I found afterwards, probably her first draft.  But the one she showed me had many more comments from the girl, including « I wish they would have drawing-anger  told me before! »

So, I don’t know how much it helped her in the evening, since as you got it, I was out, but I know that even though she had first found the idea a bit ridiculous, she was happy to show it to me in the morning, and it allowed me to discover that part of her anger was due to the fact that she had missed the information earlier in the day and therefore felt there and been no warning…

Next time, I will make sure to advise her in advance!