What To Do When Your Child’s Feelings Are Broken

Author Steven Cribbs    Category Parenting     Tags

Recently, one of my young sons got into a bit of an argument with some other kids.  Afterwards, I could tell he was upset.  But, this was not the normal upset.  I have seen my son get angry in these situations and then respond in that anger.  This time, though, was a bit different.

sad boy

Like the good father that I am (or, at least, want to be), I tried to talk with my son.  Initially, he did not say much to me.  However, as I watched him and his reactions to the unfortunate incident, I recognized a look of sadness.

After some time, my son was my son finally spoke a bit with me and used some words that I had not heard him use before.  Instead of words about how mean the other kids had been or what he wanted to do to get even with them, he said to me, “Dad, my feelings are broken.”

My heart sank.

Yes, kids are often mean to each other and do stupid things that hurt.  This simple description, though, caught my attention and I became really sad for my son.  I know that my son contributed to the situation.  But, it broke my heart to hear how heart-broken he was.

Repairing The Broken Feelings

Life can be hard – even for children.  So, what do you do for your child(ren) when they do get their feelings hurt?  This helps my children:

  • Love on your child.
  • Listen to your child. Let them tell their stories and listen for the deeper meanings.
  • Hold your child.  Some children do not like to be touched or held close.  However, a loving touch, a good hug, or even sitting close to your child will make a difference.
  • Encourage.  Let your child know they are important – to you and quite often even to those that hurt their feelings.
  • Talk with your child about their part in the incident.  No conflict is ever one-sided.  Their is always something to learn about our part.
  • Help your child understand that this one incident does not define who they are.
  • Lead your child to see that there is hope.
  • Laugh.  Sometimes you just need to tell some funny stories and have a good laugh.
  • Pray with your child.  Let your child know that they, and this incident, are important to God and that God will help when we ask.
  • Love on them some more.


When Broken Feelings Are Because Of You

This story inspired me to start thinking about all the different things that we, as parents, do that break our children’s feelings.  It does happen, doesn’t it?  Even though we would never do something intentionally to hurt our children, it is easy to say or do something that goes further than we intended, that comes out the wrong way, or is just simply a poor reaction to our own situation.

What do you do when this happens?  Use the list above.  And add one more:

  • Apologize.  We all make mistakes.  Our children know it.  But, they also need to know that they are important enough for an apology.

Question:  What do you do for your child when their feelings are broken?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

2 Comments to “What To Do When Your Child’s Feelings Are Broken”

  • Jon Stolpe August 13, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    What a great post! This definitely has some great wisdom for parents like me. I would say that we’ve seen in our own kids that there are times when they need to have space to process things themselves first. Once they’ve had an opportunity for this, they tend to be more open for the things you shared.

    • Steven Cribbs August 14, 2011 at 6:12 pm

      Giving kids some space is a great tool. Thanks for reminding me of this one. I bet that you have seen that to be especially helpful when kids are mad. One of my kids especially needs space to work through the frustrations and let the anger calm down before they are ready to receive words from anyone else. Sometimes that space comes from a total separation from other people (like some time to themselves in their own room) and sometimes that space requires me to be near but without really saying anything until they are ready.

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