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Welcoming your children's

"messy" emotions

Notebook and Pen

Step 1

Think of a particular time you felt upset about something. Write down your answers to the following questions to help you connect with your experience:


  • What did you want at that time?

  • If you were with somebody you trust, what did you need from them?

  • What responses do you find comforting when you are upset?

  • What reactions do you find jarring when you are upset?

I believe that when it comes to receiving comforting presence from the other person, our children are not that different from us. They know and appreciate when we are solid in our ability to hold their storms for them.

Mother Carrying Her Daughter

Setp 2

One of the things that make it particularly difficult to welcome our children’s discomfort about separation is the sense that we are contributing to their discomfort, blaming ourselves for directly or indirectly putting them in this situation. Usually, it is easier to hold their discomfort when it caused by somebody else (like that mean kid in the playground). If that is true for you, try the following exercise.

  • Take a piece of paper and pour out what you are thinking and feeling at the moment. Keep writing until you feel a bit more neutral or even peaceful.

  • Once you have done that, completing the following sentence: “A good thing to come out the separation is...”

  • Keep going until you have at least nine things on your list. I understand it could be challenging to find positives about your separation but small things can be as important as big things.

  • Choose three things from your list that are the most important to you.

  • Take some time to notice and journal about where these good things are present in your life already.


The aim of this exercise is to help you separate your feelings and your child's feelings. Following these steps can make it easier to pause your agenda and to get curious about your child's experience.


Step 3

We can help our children to feel safe in their big emotions if our calm and trust in their resilience is stronger than their upset, confusion, fear, etc. I love the saying "The stronger nervous system always wins." It is referring to the fact that when we are in conversation, we are continuously co-regulating each other's emotions. You can strengthen your ability to stay calm, present, grounded by practising this 9-minute guided relaxation.

It will help you to pause, come back into your space and connect with what you love and appreciate about your child. You will notice lasting changes if you practise it regularly. Training your nervous system is very much like training your muscles.

Father Playing with Son

Step 4 

Draw a horizontal line. Write “I need my children to feel happy all the time” on one side and “I am comfortable with welcoming all of my childrens' emotions” on the other.

  • Put a cross anywhere on that line that shows how you feel about it.

  • Put another cross that shows how would like to feel about it.

  • How do you feel about what you see?


If there is a gap and you would like it to be smaller, repeat the steps above or book a free discovery call to see what else we can do. 

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