“Negative” Emotions

My one year old just started experiencing the wet noodle syndrome quite frequently when he can’t have something he wants. He also has pretty big meltdowns and has a very loud scream. I know a lot of people who would consider this “bad” behavior, but I don’t see it that way.

It’s okay to experience and express “negative” emotions. There is no reason to fear them. There is no reason to suppress them. “Negative” emotions have a positive side too. The biggest positive I can see in my toddlers emotions is how they can drive more connection. Every time I respond to him kindly with empathy, he feels more safe with me. I want him to feel safe telling me about anything.

Rom. 12:15 tells us to, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” This is the most loving way to treat someone who is dealing with strong emotions. If we try to relate to our children’s feelings, they will feel so much more supported than if we try to talk them out of their feelings logically. It’s better to say, “I see that you really wanted that” instead of “you shouldn’t be so upset, it’s just a toy.”

Eccl. 3:4 says there is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance”. When we let this “time to weep” play out fully, we can experience the time to rejoice with freedom. If we try to get our child to be quiet and not express what they are feeling, we make it even harder for them to move forward into their season of joy.”

It’s okay to be angry too. Eph. 4:26  says “Be angry and do not sin.” It’s okay if my child is mad about a decision I made. When two people are in a relationship they will disagree with each other sometimes. I may decide to give my toddler one cookie but not more and my toddler may strongly disagree with my decision. I don’t need to change my mind about no more cookies or change his mind, but I can still respond calmly and kindly to my child and recognize their strong disagreement. I can make my child feel heard while sticking to what I think is best for them.

After I have been away from my two year old for a few hours, he builds up some feelings he needs to release to me. He may be whiny for a bit after I return or he may cry loudly over something that wouldn’t typically bother him so much. But he gets all those feelings out, he reconnects with me, and then he feels completely better. It’s a beautiful thing that God created a way for us to connect and feel better through expressing “negative” emotions.

I keep using quotation marks around “negative” because they are only as negative as we see them. They may be uncomfortable but they are far from useless. So much good can come when tough feelings are simply expressed and recognized by a caring family member or friend.