Should I hide my negative emotions from my child?

Catherine Mogil, PsyD
Rather than shield your negative emotions from your children, you can model appropriate emotional expression. Parents often think they should only show their kids happy feelings because they want their kids to think the world is great and loving and friendly. But a child who has been only exposed to those feelings may not know how to manage intense emotions when they experience life’s challenges like a breakup or a fight with a best friend. As children grow up they need to be able to acknowledge the entire range of emotions and be able to cope with them.
The first step is for the parent to start expressing a full range of emotions. For example, a parent who is frustrated with a bank teller who maybe made a mistake can say to the child, "I'm really frustrated right now." Just putting that emotional label on the feeling state that your child is probably observing can be very helpful. As a follow up, the parent can then describe what coping strategy the parent will use to calm to. For example, a parent might take a deep breath and say aloud “now I feel better because I took a deep breath.”

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.