Helping Children with Loss – Who’s Responsible For Feelings

Who’s Responsible For Feelings

The victim mentality seems to be almost epidemic in our society.  If the word victim seems a bit harsh, substitute the word helpless.  In either case, both concepts create the idea that no one ever seems to be responsible for what he or she has said, felt, or done.

A Child does not make someone else feel something

Through our Grief recovery personal Workshops and Certification Trainings, we have observed how common it is during childhood for people to hear statements like: “Don’t do that; you’ll make your father angry,” or “You make Mommy feel so proud.”  If you listen closely to those phrases, you will notice that they suggest that someone “makes” someone else feel something.  A “victim” foundation is laid with the idea that other people are the chief architects of our feelings.  Children are very, very smart.  They realize quickly that if they have the power to make Daddy or Mommy feel something, then Daddy or Mommy can make them feel something.

Many parents, teachers and other guardians will mistakenly say or imply that the words or actions of others are the primary cause of the child’s feelings.  the underlying message is that others made the child feel.

Here is a real-life story that happened to the child of one of our friends:

On a Monday, in a preschool class of four-year-olds, on of the two teachers was absent.  The naturally curious children asked where the other teacher was.  Here is the answer they were given by the other teacher.  “You children were so bad last Friday, and did not listen, that Ms. X had to stay home and rest because of you.”

What an incredible burden to place on the children!  What an absurd illusion of power that the children could make someone else ill!

But wait, there are consequences in this story.

The mom who told s this story was not telling tales out of school; she was actually at the school, in the classroom, and she heard the teacher say the exact words we quoted to you.  The next morning, her four-year-old son, for the first time ever, said “Mommy, I don’t want to go to school today.”  After a little chat, Mom realized that he had been very much affected by what the teacher had said, and that he believed he had made the other teacher sick.

The long term danger

This incident highlights the long-term danger of passing on to children the idea that they  re responsible for the feelings of others, which automatically sets them up to believe that others can be responsible for their feelings.

Powerful influence sources

Teachers, like parents, are powerful influence sources in the minds and hearts of children.  you or I may be able to dismiss ideas with which we do not agree.  But children will hear the words of teacher or parents as gospel.

There is also a major issue of bad timing attached to the incorrect assignment of responsibility for feelings.  Young children naturally live in the moment.  they have a hard enough time understanding the concept of past and future.  On Monday, the teacher asks them t remember their behavior last Friday.  This is a recipe for disaster.

On Friday, both teachers missed the opportunity to help the children deal directly with their in attentiveness.  On Monday, one teacher blames the children for both teachers’ inadequacies.

It would be wonderful if  we could say that this was a rare and isolated incident.  But we do not think that is true.

Communicating accurately about emotions

We want you to learn to communicate accurately about emotions, which  your children can copy and learn. In simplest terms, comments like, “You make me really angry” need to be restructured.  That statement makes the other person responsible for how you feel.  It is more accurate to say, “I am angry.”  In this example, you are taking responsibility for your reaction to the other person’s words or actions.

Powerful life lesson

This can be one of the most powerful life lessons you teach your children.  You must become aware of your use of the idea of others causing you to feel.  As you change yur language, your children will change, too.  Then, everybody wins.

From the book.  . When Children Grieve written by John W James  and Russell Friedman with Dr. Leslie Landon Matthews

There is help . .

If you are interested in participating in the Renew Your Possibility – As Children Grieve 6 week Study group, sign up here.

This is a complimentary study group that will provide you some incredibly valuable safety tips and tools that you will be able to use for the rest of your life and your children’s lives.  I guarantee it.

Or, if you are not ready to take that step, purchase the book “When Children Grieve here . .

Or download one of the ebooks under the resources page and read up on grief.

Another option is to Schedule a 15 minute complimentary call to share what your experiencing so you can ask me questions.

Just take that first step.  Do something that you have not done before.  It’s ok, that your not ok, yet please don’t stay stuck in grief.  There is light on the other side.

Remember, “The beginning is the most important part of the work.” Plato

Yours in Gratitude and to Renewing Your Possibility. . .

Debbie  Your Grief Recovery Specialist®