When I wrote ‘8 of our children’s key psychological needs‘, I knew I’d eventually have to write the post about accepting feelings. If I’m honest, at the moment, I would say that this is the key psychological need your child has. I’ve put it off and I’m curious about why.

Maybe because I know how hard it can be to accept feelings.

Perhaps because I feel like I can’t adequately convey the gift we give our children on the times that we manage to accept their feelings.

Maybe because I feel like there’s so much to say about this topic I don’t know if I can be succinct.

So bear with me.

What thoughts do you have when you think about accepting feelings?

For most people, there’s a ‘that’s fine but…’

What is your ‘but’? What fears come up when we talk about all feelings being ‘good’ feelings?

So let’s start with this:

Which feelings do you find easy to accept?

Where did you learn that these feelings are ‘OK’? When you were a child, if you had a feeling that you now find easy to accept, what happened? How did your parents respond? How did your friends respond? What happened at school if you had one of these feelings?

What was your parents’ relationship with these feelings? Did they show them? If they did, how did they do it? How did they communicate to you that they were feeling a feeling that you now find acceptable?

What did you learn about showing your ‘acceptable’ feelings? When you feel these feelings, what do you do?

When your children show these feelings, how do you know you feel ‘safe’ in them? How do you know you find it easy to accept them? How does your body feel when your child is showing one of these ‘acceptable’ feelings?

When you accept your child’s easy-to-accept feeling, what happens? Do they stay in that feeling forever? Or does that feeling pass and another one come along?

Now for the tougher stuff…

Which feelings do you find harder to accept?

When you were a child and you showed one of these feelings, what happened? How did your parents respond? Was anyone there to support you with these feelings?

How did you learn to communicate these feelings? How did your parents do these feelings?

What did you learn about the harder-to-accept feelings? What do you associate with them?

When these feelings come around, how does your body feel? How do you know that they don’t feel so ‘safe’? What helps you to soothe your body back to safety?

If your child is showing a harder-to-accept feeling, what happens for you? What do you need in that moment to remind yourself that you are safe? That your child is OK? That feelings will pass?

Can you believe that the harder-to-accept feelings will pass? Have you ever allowed your child to express all of that hard-to-accept feeling and seen what happens? If not, can you understand why you find that so difficult? Maybe even terrifying?

What do you think might happen for your child if you were to accept one of these harder-to-accept feelings? What do you think might happen for you?

If these feelings bring about anxiety in you, sign up to download our anxiety mini guide here to start learning how to respond to anxiety differently.

Why do you think we have feelings?

Where do you think they come from? What do you think their purpose is?

If I was to say

“Feelings are a sign from our body that we need to pay attention to something. A message that we need to listen to ourselves, and give ourselves love and attention”

What would you say?

Has anyone ever given you the code to your feelings? Helped you to understand what they’re telling you? How to listen? How to respond?

If not, it doesn’t seem surprising that this would all feel overwhelming and alien.

How do you feel about accepting feelings now?

What do you think you need in order to help you do that?

Where can you look for support in accepting feelings?

What fears might get in the way?

How do you think accepting feelings might impact your children?

Download our free ‘understanding feelings starter guide’ here.