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Question about parents emotions and children witnessing them

Poll Results: Do you show all your emotions?

  • 9% (6)
    No, I go to the other room if I'm really upset
  • 79% (49)
    Yes, I feel the child/ren need to see real emotions: happy or upset
  • 11% (7)
    Other- please explain!
62 Total Votes  
post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I was going to respond to this post but thought it would be taking it way off topic, so here's a new thread with a poll. My DS is too young to be experiencing these things first hand, but I know he'll be a toddler before I know it and I'll want to have thought these things out ahead of time.

In regards to when a child hits you and you mess up and hit back. I can't decide if it would be beneficial for my DS to witness my crying if something like that happens to us or if I should close the door, deal with my emotions and then come back to him calmer.

Would it do a child good to see that hitting his mother and his mother hitting back really upset him (natural consequences) or is that laying your emotions on the child inappropriately?

What do you do?

post #2 of 22
I think kids need to see different emotions, so that they can learn what's what. But I don't think they should see adult temper tantrums. I am still traumatized by seeing my father lose it and trash the kitchen one Easter, and I was only about 9 then.
post #3 of 22
I checked other. I think it's okay for dks to see emotions/reactions, but I don't think it's okay for them to see us lose control. I also don't think they should witnes heated conflict between parents. Easier said than done for some I know.

Dd has seen me, once, let anger get the better of me. I saw the look on her face as a result and I never want to see it again.

post #4 of 22
I agree with the other two posts. Normal emotions, even negative ones are healthy for children to see us processing through. Wild "temper tantrums" would be scary... showing them the range of emotions that are normal and how to handle them by modeling them seems to be a good idea though!
post #5 of 22
I go in the other room. Sometimes even lock myself in the bathroom for a minute. I am still struggling to overcome my parents' use of intimidation and corporal punishment. I know that it's running away from the situation, but when I know that I will lose my temper and maybe slap my son, I need to give myself a moment to cool off. Interestingly, my son (he's 3yrs, 3 months)
will voluntarily sit in his chair and give himself a time out when he has had a temper tantrum. I think he realizes when he needs to cool off too.
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
Yes, I agree that cooling off in another room is the best thing to do. I don't want my son to get the idea that wild tempers are okay. It's not okay for anyone to be that way, but I find it especially scary if a man doesn't know how to control his temper. I don't want to raise a threatening man.
What about letting your child see you cry. Say, they bite you and it hurts really bad and your feelings are hurt, do you go to the other room and cry or do it in front of the child. I could see crying over financial problems perhaps being inappropriate, imo there's no need for a child to be aware of the financial stuff until they are much older and need lessons on budgeting. KWIM?
post #7 of 22
Jackson witnesses all my emotions. Luckily, my anger is not too wild. And my partner and I don't have screaming yelling fights. So, I have my emotions, name them, talk about them. How else is a kid supposed to learn that emotions, even strong negative ones, are normal and ok and need expression?

That said, I don't think there is anything wrong with giving yourself some space to cool off if you need it, and that is a good example for kids, too. That is just as important a skill as being emotionally comfortable and literate.
post #8 of 22
It can be really scary to lose control... I think it is healthy for kids to see that even grown ups do it sometimes. It's how you handle it afterward that matters, IMO.

Talk about how you felt when you lost conrtol. Talk about what you wish you had done/ will do in the future instead. Apologize if needed. How will they learn what to do if they get angry if they don't have it modeled!?
post #9 of 22
sagewinna. you make some valid points. I agree that it's important for kids to see their parents express various emotions. The kid has certainly seen me and his father arguing (we live in a two-room apartment, no way to hide it!) And I don't hesitate to cry in front of him, which is a problem on my husband's side of the family. For them, crying is unacceptable and means the end of the discussion. Dh and I have had a LOT of heated discussions about this and are still working on it.
When I go to the other room to cool off, it is to protect my son and to avoid doing something I'll regret. It's a last resort, when I need to defuse the situation before it escalates. Ideally, I'd express the anger in a constructive way, but I'm talking about times when I'm really in danger of losing it.
Finally, I absolutely agree about apologizing when we screw up.
Parents are human too...and it is just common sense that one apologizes when one hurts a loved one.
post #10 of 22
I don't hide my emotions from dd. If I'm sad, happy or angry I can show it and tell her about it. I think that losing control is a different thing though; there are healthy ways of expressing negative emotions that don't involve losing it. I don't think losing control of your temper or misery is a good thing.

Dd has never seen her dad and I yell at each other, or being mean to each other. Maybe I'm lucky, but my voice sounds awful if I yell, so I don't do it.

I'm endeavoring to teach dd that she can express her emotions without losing control, so that is the behaviour I want to model for her.

post #11 of 22
I am not afraid to show sadness and get upset around ds--but anger I try to keep under control.

Ds is the best comforter I know.
post #12 of 22
I chose "other" because while I do believe that children need to see how adults handle emotions, there are times that we don't handle ourselves well at all and really shouldn't be subjecting our kids to that.

My DH and I will argue in front of the kids. We don't yell at each other or anything. We do think it is important that they know that we don't always agree about everything, but there are ways to come together on things.

But sometimes the kids drive me nuts and say that one extra thing in that one really really irritating voice (mooomeeeee!) and I just want to throw things across the room, and my kids really don't need to see that. In those cases, I will go in the other room for a second, take a deep breath (or a scream into the pillow, or throw some laundry across the room or something), and then come back to deal with things RIGHT. Because it isn't always just about kids not seeing your emotion; it is often about you needing to vent that emotion anyway, and supressing it might mean going nuts and it just isn't always worth it.

There are times they've seen things get out of control. Luckily, it has been directed at cockroaches (DH has a phobia, we live in Hawaii aka Cockroach Capital of the US) and while they were a little weirded out by it, we explained afterwards that DH thinks bugs are scary and yells and runs when he sees one, but it is OK because we are all scared of something. Funny thing is, bugs don't phase the kids even after all this 'trauma.' It may have a lot to do about explaining things. I think my kids were able to understand that Daddy just couldn't control himself, since they often can't control themselves either, KWIM?
post #13 of 22
Cheers, nikirj! We have some BIG scary roaches in Japan too...three inches long and they fly!! And Dh is a big wimp about them so Hikaru the screaming Valkyrie gets to squash them (while praying for their happy rebirth of course!)
post #14 of 22
Originally posted by Hikaru
Cheers, nikirj! We have some BIG scary roaches in Japan too...three inches long and they fly!! And Dh is a big wimp about them so Hikaru the screaming Valkyrie gets to squash them (while praying for their happy rebirth of course!)
Sounds so familiar! I HATE the ones that fly!! UGH! But DH hates them worse! It is kind of funny, though; I'm more than happy to go whack one, because my problem is with touching them, while DH's problem is the uncontrollability of the situation, so he has no problem with cleanin up once I've spread cockroach across the wall.

You know, it SOUNDS like we live in such disgusting conditions, but really, roaches are a fact of life here and expected (to a certain extent) just about everywhere. I worked in a restaurant and once a roach ran across the floor (we didn't have them, it must have come in from outside), a patron calmly stamped on it and said "no problem, eh, it's Hawaii." It still feels really weird to tell people from the mainland, who don't see roaches in anything but the filthiest places, that there are roaches in our house sometimes! Glad to hear someone is in the same boat!
post #15 of 22
I don't sensor my emotions in front of my children, but I've never been one to over-react anyway. My son teases me when I cry over sad movies, "MOM, it's only a MOVIE! It's not real!"

I don't classify emotions as "normal". There is a whole range of human emotions and they're all normal. How we react to them and how we express them - well that is subject to socially acceptable standards. Most of my reactions are acceptable, most of the time. When I lose control and yell, I always own up and appologize right away. I think it is very important for my children to see me do that. I don't want to go into another room and come back "fixed." I think they benefit from seeing me come to my senses, regain control, and take responsibility for my actions.

Just my two cents.
post #16 of 22
It's very interesting reading everyone's different approaches to this problem...(not to mention the roaches in Hawaii!! )

Just to repeat myself...I go to the other room when I think I'm in danger of losing my temper and possibly hitting my son, a negative part of my upbringing that I'm working hard to overcome. I am doing it to protect us both from a potentially dangerous situation, rather than to shield him from my emotions, which I agree are a healthy thing for him to see. I don't hink emotions should be controlled all the time, only when I might hurt my little boy.
post #17 of 22
I voted other- I believe it is important for children to witness our emotions as we are truly experiencing them, and equally (or more) important for them to see the resolution process. However, I cast my vote as "other" because I also feel that there are some limits to this- IMO, threatening or physically violent behaviour is inappropriate for children to view. In the event that my dd witnesses something like this (i.e., another child being hit in a store.) I think it is essential for her to be reassured and to explain why it is wrong for people to do those types of things to one another. I also believe that by providing a loving and emotionally honest environment, our children will be more well equipped to handle negative situations in their adulthood.

Amy, mom to Tsuneo, 09/12/
post #18 of 22
I chose other. While I think it's important for children to see emotions, I'm not sure they should witness "all" of ones parents emotions! I have seen my 2 year old son get such a crushed look when one of us has a big reaction to something, especially something he was unaware of. I try to calmly explain what is happening, what is being felt, etc and reassure him that he is perfect and loved and safe. It's hard.
post #19 of 22
Hikaru -ITA!

I have a temper and am ALWAYS working very hard to manage it - it's not something I am proud of or I find becoming
But my kids have seen me lose it, my husband and I have fought in front of the kids (bickering and arguing) none of this am I proud of. That said, I am human, I make mistakes and I always appologize for my mistakes. I continually try harder and have improved imensely - but that doesn't mean I don't screw up every once in a while.

My parents were and still are very emotional people, they were always very open with my sister and I, they cried, fought and laughed in a BIG way but they always made us feel intensely loved and never faltered in the security they gave us.

I think as parents it is our job to always work at doing better for our kids but still allowing ourselves to be human and make mistakes, then appologize for them and learn from them.
I have never hit my children, I don't condone violence of any kind - but sometimes that just makes the need to boil over even a greater one - I would rather get frustrated, cry, fight than hit KWIM?

I am rambling here, just trying to make sense of it all *for me*-
Sometimes it feels like we always talk about the 'optimum' way of raising children but don't get into the 'messy' reality of it.
This isn't directed at anyone other than myself - I am feeling the need to be very honest today
post #20 of 22

Totally agree with Nikirj. The emotions parents express (negative emotions) don't need to be seen by children because it obviously is not the way to handle our emotions, and we do not want to teach children to react that way. They see us handling a situation frustrated, or mad not even yelling or throwing something they will still see and feel that emotion in you. If you don't show it they will definitely feel it. But who knows which one of those effects a child more.

With a child imitating how we react to being afraid of bugs definitely can be stopped in its tracks. Right, just by explaining to your child right after he/she reacts that same way you did, that it's fine, you don't have to be get scared like mommy was with that one bug (explain which time and where so your child is recalling the same memory) or just say you don't have to be afraid like mommy and I'm sure he/she will recall a or the time that you reacted that way. Will learn as well by seeing you not get scared that time, when you explain it to him/her. Then that reaction will in most cases not stick.I am deathly afraid of spiders and now after I said that to them they learned not to be scared, I can control myself sometimes when it comes to spiders my talking at least :)  but anyway they are 5 and 6 now, they both want to kill the spider but I even tell them not to because I don't want to see them miss or it move, so they react their own way but still respect my fear, and they don't kill it. Kids can be so cute though. Emotions of sadness I believe can be shown then you can explain to them the emotion. and why you're sad. That is a healthy emotion. Unless it was a bad reason they don't need to know about I guess. but

That's how they learn of things is observation! So. it all depends on the situation. I hate that they soak up every reaction, you really have to control yourself and take the time to explain your actions if you can't control them. Don't forget to stop yourself once in awhile to explain yourself or they will handle their problems the same way you do. If you  handle a situation badly the same way a lot of times over and over again, and don't comfort your children afterwards they will definitely pick up that reaction and handle their problems that way. Don't ask me how or when you can try and reverse it. I just know it is possible. Don't wait til they're 20 though!

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