Feelings are not bad!
Feelings, such as sadness, anger, frustration, bitterness, jealousy, envy, etc., need to be felt and validated, BUT how we act toward others and ourselves due to these feelings may not be acceptable. For example, in children, it is okay to feel anger, but it is not okay to hit your brother. It is okay to feel sadness for not being able to buy a toy at the store but it is not okay to throw yourself on the floor and have a tantrum. In adults, it is okay to feel anger, it is not okay to hit or give the silent treatment. It is okay to feel disappointment, it is not okay to withdraw love.
The more we can teach our children how to use different forms of communication to express their emotions the better they will be able to work through their emotions without hurting themselves or others around them.
The Anger Wheel of Choice can be a useful tool to use to help children learn different and appropriate ways to express their feelings. Many forms of the Anger Wheel of Choice exist, I chose to share two used by Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott, who are co-authors to many Positive Discipline books, they are shown below:
Anger Wheel of Choice Wheel of Choice
1. Teach your children that feelings are always okay, but what they do is not okay.
2. During a time when your child is feeling calm, show him or her the Anger Wheel of Choice and go over the respectful alternatives for expressing anger.
3. When your child is angry, validate feelings and then offer a choice, "What would help you now - some positive time-out or the wheel of choice?" (shown above) Sometimes when emotions have escalated too far it is necessary to make a choice for the child and say, "I see you are angry/upset and I am going to put you over here until your body can make good choices."
It is possible that if children learn these life skills, they will feel more confident and capable of experiencing loving and potentially more peaceful relationships in the future.