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Are we criminalising our childrens' emotions?

(13 Posts)
Again Wed 01-Jun-11 12:22:21

Just some food for thought.

I read a post recently where someone said that they sent their child to time out for being 'sad' and it made me...sad.

I do find it very difficult to see emotions in my children such as anger, frustration and sadness and it makes it difficult to sit with them through it. I think that this is to do with my feelings though. It stirs something in me and I'd rather run away from it.

It's not fair to let our children go through these feelings alone and make them feel that feelings are wrong.

MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Wed 01-Jun-11 13:04:44

I know what you mean. It makes me sad when i see little ones upset after a fall told "you're alright" Clearly they are not! You might want them to be alright. You might feel confident that they will be alright. But at the time they are hurt/shocked/startled/embarrased etc and imo should be allowed time to have that emotion and get better in their own time. Reassurance yes. Denial no.

It shouldn't go the other way either,eg pouncing on them with "oh no! Are you ok you poor poor thing" etc when they have taken it in their stride.

I'm sometimes suprised by ds's reaction to stuff but i try and take my lead from him and validate what he feels at the time while acknowledging that it's his emotion and not always about me. I don't want him to feel he has to hide his emotions as i did as a kid. My mum would be clearly over upset if i was upset at some times, and would deny how i felt at others. Either way my emotions were either an upsetting burden to her, or wrong. confused

skybluepearl Wed 01-Jun-11 18:09:37

i don't agree with time out for sadness but time out for manipulative grumpyness is fine with me. my bright son has a delightful upbeat life but seems to take pleasure in being grumpy. seems more of a huge older toddler power thing and we used to spent alot of time trying to help him be in a good mood. then often it turned catch 22 where he gots stuck in grumpy mode for weeks and couldn't get out of it. i think he likes being grumpy infact - which is very odd as all the other family members are positive/happy.

since timing him out for being grumpy (not for sad or upset behaviour) his behaviour has completely turned round. He is choosing to be more upbeat and seems happier, more content, a more lovely child. He is the sort of very vocal child that says what he feels anyway and that hasn't stopped since I started using time out. Son just has a clearer idea of what sort of behaviour is not acceptable and we feel closer being more in tune with each other.

Tee2072 Wed 01-Jun-11 18:21:45

I would live to see the context if 'time out for sad' as it seems completely daft to me.

I do, however, say 'you're alright' to my son when he is alright after a fall and is just being a bit dramatic.

Ormirian Wed 01-Jun-11 18:28:15

It's not about criminaling their emotions. But not expecting everyone else to put up with them expressing their emotions endlessly and unpleasantly.

If one of my DC is sulking and stroppy I won't allow his/her mood to dominate the entire family. We will try to help/sympathise but after a certain they will get ignored and if they continue to try to upset everyone else will be told to go to their room until they can be decent company.

And yes, after I have judged that accidental damage is minor I will try to jolly them along because otherwise they run the risk of spoiling whatever they are doing for themselves. DS2 for example is a real drama queen so we will give kisses and sympathy briefly and then he's told 'COme on, you're OK, lets go and do X'.

MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Wed 01-Jun-11 18:29:32

But don't we all feel grumpy sometimes? Could it be that by "trying to help him be in a good mood" you are denying the way he really feels and so he amplifys it? Turning up the volume to try and be heard? Seeking reassurance that you still love him when he's unhappy?

I tell you there is nowt pisses me off quite like "cheer up it might never happen"

I think it's sad that his relationship with you is conditional on him hiding some of his emotions. Sorry but i do.

Tgger Wed 01-Jun-11 21:29:00

Hmmmmm. Interesting post as myself and DH have thought about this.

I think "sadness" timeout no, but a child with angry/upset emotions that translate as a shouty/unreasonable/illogical child that won't/can't listen to reason then =maybe?

I am more inclined to try to talk it out with DS but somehow when he gets into one of the above states it is just not possible and going to his room to calm down (and learn to handle his emotions?) is actually a kind thing as he gets over it quicker than if just ignored or engaged with (actually impossible to engage with really).


NorthernGobshite Wed 01-Jun-11 21:44:12

Timeout for being sad? Madness.
I think children are expected to control their feelings way too much and too early. I try to encourage dd to feel what she feels and not be ashamed to show it - I grew up in a house where you had to be 'ok'. I try to teach her that anger is ok too but that there are acceptable ways of showing it, being angry around others etc.

skybluepearl Wed 01-Jun-11 23:35:50

Moon yes i agree we all have grumpy days but i also think to a certain extent we choose to be a bit grumpy or not. Grumpyness can be a habit. I ran out of cornflakes and couldn't have them for my breakfast this morning but chose not to be grumpy about it. Yes my family were sympathetic about the lack of cornflakes (we decided to go food shopping) but i decided not to let it ruin our morning together. Sadness and upset is of course a very different deeper matter.

He knows i love him what ever mood hes in - also he is always diciplined fairly and with love. I adore my kids, spend lots of time with them and have a very close bond but also believe that children need some degree of routine and boundries to feel secure and safe. I think my son is simply trying to test these bondaries. He is exploring issues of power and control through some of his grumpyness. Of course i sympathise and support him through upsets or if he is sad about anything but I can easily tell the difference between bloody minded bad behaviour and sadness. I actually think he was enjoying the family attention his grumpyness gave him.

He is very very vocal for a 3 year old and will always say what ever pops into his mind - so i don't worry about him surpressing emotions at all. It all comes out - his dreams, what his playmates have done, what the play leader said to him, what he thought about X hitting X child, that he accidentally broke my cup, various imaginative stories etc .. If anything i can see that he feels more 'held' and secure having time out when he is misbehaving. He likes to know the boundaries aren't fuzzy and welcomes the order it has bought into his life. Time out for bad behaviour/consistancy has meant he has seemed so much happier within himself and he has even opened up more because he feels secure and is less busy with pushing boundaries/power play.

skybluepearl Wed 01-Jun-11 23:40:26

yes it's fine to feel angry etc but there are ways to express yourself. i try to help mine find the words to express their feelings

MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Thu 02-Jun-11 14:53:06

skybluepearl while i appreciate you taking the time to describe your use of time out of positive reinforcement, i'm not a believer in it and remain unconvinced.

Ostrosising (sp) a child for expressing how they feel is still beyond me. Indeed from their perspective maybe you look a little grumpy when doing it.

I'm not saying children should be encouraged to wallow. But ime finding a solution to the problem involves acknowledging the problem in the first place. "you seem grumpy...oh, you're dissipointed there's no cornflakes left. Oh dear. Well we can get some next time we go shopping. Why not get a pen and paper and we can write a list so we don't forget them"

Ime people who are grumpy by habit appear to perpetuate their grumpyness despite being ignored. A lack of positive reinforcement certainly doesn't stop them. If anything they often seem agrieved that no one else cares about their moaning. I find once i have gotten things off my chest to a nodding dh i am much readier to move on. Nowt breeds a bad mood like having it belittled.

NorthernGobshite Fri 03-Jun-11 10:02:55

I really do object to children being taught that negative emotions should be punished. Children need to learn how to talk about emotions not feel they are bad for having them.

TheCrackFox Fri 03-Jun-11 10:17:18

Some children are unpleasantly stroppy/sulky. I guess it is a fine line recognising their right to their emotions but where does that spill over into a stroppy/sad/sulky child actually controlling the entire family?

Havikng said that I wouldn't put a child into time out for being sad but none of us where there so it is hard to judge.

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