Therapy Blog for Orem, Spanish Fork & South Jordan

Parenting: How to Help Your Child Process Big Feelings

How to Parent When Your Child Is Experiencing Difficult Feelings


Parenting is not always easy, especially when your child is going through a hard time. No matter your phase of parenthood, you will inevitably see your kids experience many “big” and challenging feelings. But what can you do to help your child during these difficult times? What is the best response?

Today, we will talk about how you can support your child when they are dealing with big feelings. You will also learn how therapy can help.

Emotions: The Only Way Out is Through

It can be so easy as a parent to want to interfere when your child is struggling. I know that sometimes when my toddler is having a hard day I just want to find a way to make the challenging feelings disappear. And that is a natural response. You don’t want your child to suffer! 

However, the answer to big feelings is not to cover them or try to remove them. You don’t even need to “fix” it. If you can learn to help your child process and get through their difficult feelings, you can teach them better emotional intelligence and resilience. (Related article: 6 Ways to Help Your Child Accept Difficult Feelings)

But how exactly is that done? Where do you begin? Let’s talk about some strategies you can try to help your child through their big feelings. (Related article: Therapy- It’s Not What You Think)

Encourage Self-Awareness


If you have ever watched your toddler throw a tantrum, you’ve probably noticed that it is a pretty overwhelming experience for your child. The same goes for all big feelings; your child is likely very overwhelmed and may even be frustrated that they can’t seem to fix this feeling! That’s where awareness can be a useful tool and a great starting point to learning emotional regulation skills

Raising awareness of your child’s experience does not have to be complicated. It can be as simple as noting what they are doing in the moment. For example, you might say “I see that your arms are crossed and you seem frustrated”. It can be that simple! Putting a name to their experience can help encourage them to explore naming their emotions on their own. And being able to label and name what they are feeling is a skill that will help them develop a better ability to understand and regulate emotions on their own later down the line. (Related Article: Child Therapy)

Embrace Discomfort

This step applies to both you and your child during difficult emotional situations. In order to process challenging feelings, you have to be open to feeling discomfort. Embracing discomfort will discourage you from rushing through or avoiding big feelings in yourself and in your kids.

If you can learn to take a step back and support instead of trying to fix your child’s feelings, they can learn how to calm down in a healthy way on their own. Being able to emotionally regulate is a skill that can benefit your child for their entire life. If your child has the ability to sit in discomfort and work through their feelings, they will be better equipped to handle everyday stress.


Learning to embrace discomfort will also help them navigate difficult conversations and conflicts in their future relationships, too. (Related Article: Looking For Parenting Advice? Maybe There’s a Different Way).

Embracing discomfort can be as easy as telling your child “I see this is hard for you. I am here for you”. If you set an example and

don’t shy away from challenging situations, your child will follow your lead. Following this pattern with your child also builds trust and shows you are someone they can turn to for comfort when times are hard. 

Parenting Guidance in Therapy  

If you have tried these strategies and are hitting a wall, or if you need extra support, therapy can be a great parenting resource. In individual therapy, you can learn emotional regulation skills that can help you parent your child as they learn to do the same. And in family therapy, you can receive individualized advice and support for both you and your child’s unique situation and needs. 

If you’re ready to get individualized parent guidance and support, start therapy in Orem, South Jordan, or Spanish Fork, Utah. 

Written by Lauren Adkins

Lauren Adkins

Writer for the Center for Couples and Families


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