The other day I was walking with my daughter in the street. I went to hold her hand and she refused it. She said, “I am old enough to walk by myself, Mommy!” I was cool with that. We were walking in a safe area. Five minutes later, she put her hand in mine. I looked down surprised but didn’t say anything.
Kids usually have two feelings about everything. They want to be independent and walk by themselves but they also want to sometimes hold our hands, they crave that feeling of security. They love us and sometimes they are resentful.
It can get pretty confusing for parents. It helps if we understand that having 2 opposite feelings is part of being human. Dr. Haim Ginott in his book, Between Parent and Child, says,
“We can learn to accept the existence of ambivalent feelings in ourselves and in our children. To avoid unnecessary conflicts, children need to know that such feelings are normal and natural.”
I know I always get confused when my kids sound or act unsure of their feelings. I have heard many parents say to their kids, things like,
“Make up your mind, do you want to play with Danny or not?”
“Just make a decision already! This is not rocket science. Do you want to go on your class trip or not?”
“Teachers are teachers. You either like them or you don’t!”
Children are often overwhelmed by their feelings. They don’t always know how to manage them. We can help our kids sort themselves out if we acknowledge that they can have 2 different feelings about the a situation or even a person. They love to hear parents reflect their feelings back to them.
“You are not sure about your new friend Danny. Sometimes you like him, especially since he likes to play sports. Sometimes he bothers you; you don’t like the way he treats you when his other friends are around.”
“You seem to have two feelings about your class trip. You want to go with your friends, but you wish you weren’t going to an amusement park.”
“It sounds like you like your teacher and you are learning a lot but you don’t like it when he yells.”
Neutral statements like this, describe to children the inner turmoil that they are experiencing. It helps them think clearly and they are then better able to make decisions or elaborate on what they are feeling.
They can then say,
“You know, Maybe I will just play with Danny when his friends aren’t around.”
“I think I am going to go. I just won’t go on the rides I don’t like.”
“Yeh, I don’t like it when my teacher yells but I do like when he teaches us about wildlife.”
Dr. Ginott says,
“A sophisticated view of human reality takes account of the possibility that where there is love, there ialso some hate; where there is admiration, there is also some envy; where there is devotion, there is also some hostility; where there is success, there is also apprehension. It takes great wisdom to realize that all feelings are legitimate: the positive, the negative, and the ambivalent.”
Let us know what you think!
Do you want to learn more about parenting? Join our Summer Master Parenting Class and get great advice from 4 awesome experts.
For more info click here:
To get great tips delivered to your inbox every week, sign up here for our ParentingSimply newsletter.
Looking forward to hearing from you.