I recently came across an old diary of mine from decades ago. I am not an especially angry person but, wow. In one entry I really let rip about some people who had treated me badly. I had even drawn a picture of the event! And that was that. In the pages that followed, there was nothing more about it. No plots to blow up their house or poison their cats – I was over it. I actually do recall the event, and I also recall, decades later, how cathartic and helpful it was to write out my feelings.
- Video: Helping your kids navigate their big feelings
- Video: Is the water running clear in your whānau?
- Help your kids make sense of anger: Part 1
Some children – and probably a lot of adults too – need a way to unload their emotions. If your child is upset or angry, and is unable to talk about it, ask them to write their feelings down on paper or in a journal. They can express themselves through words or drawings.
If they choose to share it (and don’t automatically assume they will), tell them they can post what they’ve written like a letter by popping it under your pillow, and that you will write back. You can see what is going on – or their perspective on it, anyway – and you can post back your expression of love and support.
Here’s the thing – don’t be surprised if they don’t ‘post the letter’ to you. Like I discovered in my diary, the mere act of writing it all out might be all the processing they need to do. Could they text to you instead of writing? I suppose so, but something romantic in me still likes the idea of the emotion flowing onto paper and being captured there. And you never know – they may read it again in 40 years’ time and smile – like I did.
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