Without overthinking, name as many good feelings as you can.














Now, name bad feelings.











What criteria do we use to categorize feelings?

Positive vs Negative

Pleasant vs Unpleasant

And then there are the in between feelings or those that are neutral




Some feelings could be either, like surprised

A surprise birthday party with a room full of our friends

I suppose shock would be more fitting for an unpleasant surprise

Realizing your husband is having a heart attack

Maybe the moment when the doctor told my husband that he was having a heart attack came as a surprise to him

I had just gotten to the ER and overhead this conversation.

Memories can bring out these feelings again

What feeling memories do you have?

Do you remember being a child and the message you received about crying?

You’re such a crybaby

Grow up, get over it

I will give you something to cry about!

Be a man

The feeling of Anger: What messages did you receive about getting angry

I can not easily recall messages about my anger.

Most likely because I did not outwardly express my anger as a child

Or at least, not in an inappropriate way.


What things have you said to your own children about their feelings?

I found this article about dismissing our children’s feelings on Parenting for Brain

Here is an excerpt:

Here are some examples of dismissing parents’ reactions to children’s negative emotions:

  • “Oh, don’t be a cry baby”
  • “It’s not a big deal”
  • “You shouldn’t feel that way.”
  • “Don’t be so sensitive.”
  • “Just forget about it and move on”
  • “Don’t dwell on it.”
  • “It’s not important.”
  • “If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry about.”

We can also dismiss our children’s feelings in our actions, our facial expression, our body language, or making a sarcastic comment.

We label feeling as bad or good without realizing it

A common thing many parents say is,

“I just want my children to be happy.”

Unintentionally, we are implying that we don’t want them to feel anything but happiness.

We are saying, it is not ok to have all these other feelings, like anger, sadness and disappointment.

This can leave our child feeling inadequate or not loved when they experience these emotions.

Our children want to feel loved and accepted by their parents.

And they will do what they feel they need to do seek that acceptance.

Burying feelings that are not happy can lead to multiple problems and self-destructive behavior.

Some children turn inward with their feelings and others might express their feelings with outward behavior.

Often, things can build up for a time before they come bubbling to the surface and they explode over something that seems so minor or mundane. Yet, underneath, their is so much more. Feelings can pile up inside us creating walls and barriers to effective communication and relationships.

In today’s podcast, Don and I discuss feeling and share some tools from the book, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk. This book is the basis for the communications skills classes that we offer for parents and caregivers. These tools are also applicable to all communication in all relationships.

Acknowledging feelings is an important first step when responding to someone and especially with our children.

How do we do that?

  1. Name the feeling

“She took your toy away from you. I imagine you are sad.”

“Having someone we care about tell us lies can be infuriating.”

“It hurts when someone calls us names.”

They key to this step is to make a short statement about what they might be feeling and then let them talk without interruption. We might get it wrong and they will correct us with what they are in fact feeling. this is a good thing. They are learning to define their feelings. It is important to first identify what we are feeling before we can move forward. For young children, helping them growing their feelings vocabulary is important and you can use emoji faces or a list of feeling words. Another great tool are magnetic words. Having them on the refrigerator at all times can serve many purposes including identifying feelings. I also like the feelings thermometer where you identify your feeling either on a color scale or a number scale. The basic red, yellow and green concept is simple and helpful for even a young child.

2. Respond with one word.




We don’t want absolute silence when we are telling someone how we feel. Acknowledging that you are listening by both putting down your phone and turning to look at your child and then responding with an occasional word can be an effective tool.

The key to effective communication is good listening skills. Don’t forget to be quiet and give them the opportunity to speak without interruption even if they don’t initially have anything to say. Some kids need more time to respond. You can always return to the conversation later when they are ready.

We would love to hear your stories, insights and questions about acknowledging feelings as well as anything parenting related. Please listen to our podcast and visit our website where you can connect with us. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Remember: How we speak to our children today, shapes their future.


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