April 20, 2022

Parenting Tips: How to Handle Big Emotions in Little Kids

Written By Ivanova Smith

Kids have emotions just like their parents, which is something all families need to hear. Kids have outbursts, and so do their parents. What may be small to adults is a big deal to a child and there are many things kids may not think are important that us adults freak out about.

The only advice or wisdom I can give:

Don’t hide your emotions from your kids!

Hiding your own emotions from your kids don’t work.  Kids are smart (smarter than we give them credit for), and they can feel and sense changes in your mood.  Hiding your own emotions teaches them to do the same and things build up and that leads to more stress.  You may blow up because you are trying to hide emotions.  Instead, just let our emotions out and talk to your kids about it.

We express our anger and so do the kids. Hiding from emotions don’t stop the emotions.  They are going to be there.  Instead, think about embracing all the emotions you feel: the good and the bad.  We all have emotions.  While it may seem easier to hide them, and while some people suggest I hide mine, I find it easier to live with them.  When I try to hide them it makes me feel sick inside when I do that.

Try encouraging kids to express their emotions in ways that are safe instead of trying to shut them down all together. Emotions are messy they not positive or negative, they are complex and that is true for both kids and parents.  We need be more forgiving of expression of emotions.

Here are a few resources on social emotional development in children and how to help them express what they’re feeling:

About Ivanova Smith

Ivanova Smith is Self-Advocate leader in Washington State. They work as activist advocate for Atwork! and University of Washington LEND program Self Advocacy Faculty. They also are involved in several self-advocacy organizations, People First of Washington, SAIL and Allies in Advocacy. They are passionate in making sure all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are given access to all aspects of life: working, having friendships in community, marriage, and children. Ivanova is happily married and has a 4-year-old little girl, Alexandra, and 1-year-old daughter Hildegard. Ivanova is passionate about making sure all parents with I/DD have rights and get needed supports in parenting.