Anger is good. Joy is good. Shame is good.

Nicole - posted on 02/04/2011 ( 22 moms have responded )

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Are all emotions good and valuable or are there emotions that should be discouraged?

Should children be taught that shame is a healthy emotion? Or should they learn to speak more positively to themselves and assess situations from a more positive perspective?

I often hear that there is nothing wrong with anger, and it should be suppressed, just expressed in a healthy manner. I do not agree. I think that anger is unnecessary. I think that thinking rationally about a situation and fixing what needs fixing is more important than getting angry about it. Anger just eats at the person and builds, inspiring irrational, aggression or passive aggression.

What do you think?

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[deleted account]

Shame is just the same as the rest, Nicole. Dismiss it, and it will only create more problems. We need to identify why the person is feeling ashamed, acknowledge and validate it and then resolve or teach them how to solve the problem.

Sharon - posted on 02/05/2011

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Anger is a form of passion. Its a motivator.

People get angry that their child was killed by a drunk driver and form M.A.D.D. Mothers Against Drunk Driving. It wasn't compassion for other parents that motivated them. It was anger and a desire that this not happen again.

Getting angry is the motivator. Forming a group to stop bad behaviours - is an awesome expression of that anger.

I also want to say it was not JUST anger that got those people moving... its just an example.

[deleted account]

I don't think it is ever okay to tell a child that they should not feel certain emotions.
If a child is already ashamed of something, then their parents tell them, "You don't really feel that way" or "You should never feel that way" it just makes them feel worse, because now, not only are they ashamed of the original deed, but they are ashamed of being ashamed of it.

Tara - posted on 02/05/2011

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To add, all emotions are also bio-chemical reactions in our brains and bodies. When my oldest son was about 7 I started to teach him about how his brain worked, and how certain chemicals are released when you are angry/sad/happy etc. etc. these chemicals are powerful and unavoidable, it's basic biology. Our brains are not some network of unseen connections, emotions are not these illusive mental things we experience, they are a result of chemical and electrical changes in the brain.

So I told my son how to recognize when he was becoming angry based on his body cues, he felt hotter, his face would flush, his muscles tighten up, he feels like screaming etc. and then I told him that was because certain chemicals were flooding his brain, sending all kinds of fight or flight signals to his body, resulting in the sensations and thoughts he was having. So.... knowing biology I also know that those chemicals can not maintain that level of intensity for very long without adding to the already present emotional stress, I gave him the power to diffuse his anger by telling him to flood his brain with oxygen thereby diluting the stress chemicals in his system and bringing him back into a balanced state.



So I taught him how to breathe like a dolphin, (his favourite animal) so when he started getting upset and I could tell his was not going to catch it himself I would tell him. "breathe like a dolphin for 1 minute, I'll time you." and he would take big deep breaths though his nose and then blow them out his mouth really hard.

When this is done, there is NO physical way you can NOT calm down. It is biology and chemistry at work over thought.



So I taught all my kids about their own ability to control the responses they have to their emotions. They can be in control, they have the skills, we all do. That's not to say they don't get mad, upset or sad etc. But it doesn't last any longer than they decide it has to, because they know how they can turn it around and it involves NO thought or maturity level at all. And provided that there is support in the family for them to recognize that emotions are both thoughts and chemistry allows them to have their emotions yet be responsible for them.



Edited to fix typos and add some stuff.

Petra - posted on 02/06/2011

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D Mak and Tara expressed my feelings on this perfectly - all emotions are valid and working through those emotions constructively is healthy. Teaching your child that there is something wrong with the way that they feel (whether angry or shameful) and encouraging them to suppress it is NOT healthy. Kids need to learn to understand what causes these feelings and why, because we all feel shame and anger and there is nothing wrong with it. A positive outcome needs to be provided - not a negative outcome in the form of criticism or suppression.

My nephew stole something once and he got busted immediately. He was utterly and profoundly ashamed. My brother spent hours talking him through it and helping him understand why what he did was wrong, why he was feeling the way he did, and what he could do to prevent it in the future. He apologized and he was forgiven, but I can guarantee you he won't do it again. It was a hell of a lesson with a very positive outcome, and shame was a crucial ingredient in learning from his mistake.

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I believe all emotions stem from core ones and that sometimes we give our emotions the wrong word. For instance we don't get angry in our house, anger stems from being hurt or upset in some way so if you feel angry you're really hurt/upset and that is what we need to address. Mommy isn't angry that Aiden made a mess she's upset that he didn't listen when she said to keep the crayons at the table. Aiden isn't angry, he's upset that Mommy said to put away toys when he wasn't done playing. Same thing with hate, we don't hate in this house we strongly dislike for specific reasons. Aiden doesn't hate Damien he dislikes him because he hurt his feelings when he pushed him. Mommy doesn't hate grandma she just dislikes her because granma hurts her feelings when she moves mommy's stuff around so it looks "better" lol. As for shame same deal we don't apologise because we feel 'guilty' we make things right if we accidentally hurt someone's feelings. Aiden doesn't go to the wall because he is supposed to be ashamed of his behaviour he goes there until he is calm and then we re-explain the rule he broke so he can learn from his mistake. Even with things like hitting he shouldn't be ashamed he hit he should have time to realise why he did it and apologise because he didn't really mean to cause pain.

It's pretty complicated but it's important that we all express ourselves the way we really mean to instead of slapping a general word for a whole group of feelings. Otherwise how will others know what makes us angry and what exactly makes us happy, it's too general no one learns anything from that and no one feels properly expressed. The same thing goes for positive emotions I don't want to hear that Aiden is just 'happy' I'd much rather him say he feels comfortable in his bed, he feels satisfied after dinner, he had lots of fun at the park, that caterpillers make him smile, playing tag makes him giggle, he feels loved during our snuggles, etc.

I agree no emotion is meant to be bottled but each emotion needs to be felt and expressed properly. I may sound kinda far out there but this is how I was raised and is how I'm raising my children, to have an extensive vocabulary so that they can express their equally extensive range of emotions, and know what exactly it is that they are feeling and why.

Bonnie - posted on 02/07/2011

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All emotiona are normal, within reason. A person cannot get so angry to a point that it makes it okay to take it out on someone else. It is also not good to keep feelings bottles up inside. That can cause even bigger problems.

Stifler's - posted on 02/06/2011

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Anger, shame etc. are natural. Being angry and ashamed is a step in solving the problem, it's part of recognising that there is a problem.

Charlie - posted on 02/05/2011

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All emotions should be felt and respected .



It is OK to feel angry it is how you handle the emotion that matters as is with every emotion , suppressing any emotion is not only cheating yourself it is dangerous to your well being and sometimes to others .



Shame is also a wonderful tool for self realization and improvement again it is how you deal with it .



To feel emotion is normal , to acknowledge it is healthy .

Nadia - posted on 02/05/2011

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I think there is no problem with anger... it's how you deal with it is the big issue. It's normal for every human to feel anger, but you need to know how to react to it in a healthy way. If you're mad because your boss fired you, you don't walk into the office with a gun. If you're angry because your 2-yr-old just dropped your $500 cell phone down the toilet you don't beat the living daylights out of them. I don't think anger should be surpresses, but you have to have a healthy outlet for it. My mother always said "go punch your pillow". and i agree with this. You shouldn't tell you're child they aren't supposed to feel a certain way... just show them how to react to that feeling in a safe and healthy way. Like little Johnny stole my kids fav toy... go and ask little Johnny to give it back and next time he wants to play with it to say please. Do not hit little Johnny until he drops the toy.

[deleted account]

" I think that anger is unnecessary."

WRONG! How you deal with that anger is the issue. There is NOTHING wrong with being angry. It is so important to teach our children how to deal with their emotions properly. It is EXTREMELY important to VALIDATE their feelings and emotions and let them know that you hear them and that they're allowed to be angry or be sad, or be frustrated, and THEN show them how to express those feelings properly. By not acknowledging someone's feelings (adult or child) it will only make them MORE angry, sad, frustrated etc. We can't help our feelings but we can learn how to deal with them responsibly and express the appropriately. Goes for adults too.

[deleted account]

Children should be provided with a safe environment to be able to express ANY emotion in an appropriate manner. THat is our job as parents!

[deleted account]

I feel that shame is also a valuable emotion, but that we should take care to teach appropriate ways to deal with it.
Shame helps guide our moral compass. Sure, we can *learn* morality and empathy without shame, but we would have no incentive to follow them. When we feel shame, we know we've done something we should not do in the future.

That said, I do not think parents, or anyone for that matter, should place shame on a child or another person by telling them that their actions are something to be ashamed of. If the parent is doing their job, the child will automatically feel shame when they do something wrong, and the parent's job is to COMFORT the child and help them work through the shame so that they can reconnect and not make the same mistakes again.

[deleted account]

I agree that all emotions are important and ok to feel and express in a healthy way. But I'm not a big fan of shame. To me, that "emotion" is in a category all of its own and I try my best not to instill that in my son (or anyone in my life). I don't like hearing someone say, "Shame on you." or "You should be ashamed of yourself." Shame is (to me) a soul killer. It's sort of a topical emotion. If I do something wrong, and feel ashamed of myself, really I'm just feeling disappointment, anger, sadnes....if that makes sense? Shame isn't the real emotion I feel when I do something wrong, it's more of a blanket statement about the other emotions I'm REALLY feeling. But if a person allows themselves to feel shame and doesn't address the underlying stuff, then that shame will eat them up. If my son ever does something that intentionally hurts another (physically or emotionally), I'd like to think that rather than teaching him to be "ashamed of himself", I'd teach him to recognize that he's human, he made a mistake and to learn how to apologize or rectify the situation. I really hope this makes sense lol

Tara - posted on 02/05/2011

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Shame can lead to loss of connection but can also lead to accountability, I agree we can learn the positive social behaviours we desire without experiencing shame, but I disagree that shame is an unnecessary or invalid emotion.

Nicole - posted on 02/05/2011

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I don't know if I agree with that. We can learn social rules and follow them without shame. We can form empathy without shame, as shame separates from others. Shame makes us want to hide, not connect, and connection is essencial for compassion and empathy.

Tara - posted on 02/05/2011

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All emotions are valid, it is how we express and resolve those feelings.
Shame is an emotion that is tied to the actions of ones self. It is necessary to grow from mistakes, if we never felt shameful for things we have said or done, we not learn the skills of empathy. In order to take responsibility for your actions and how they affect others, you must first look to your own emotions, and when you feel shame it is an indication that you are not living up to the standards you place on yourself, it is a cue to improve.
All emotions are opportunities to grow and learn about ones emotional self.

Jenn - posted on 02/05/2011

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ALL feelings are healthy and normal. It all boils down to how you react to them and express them and find a way to deal with them, or even more so, the cause of the feeling.

Nicole - posted on 02/05/2011

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what about shame?
Is shame a healthy feeling or the consequence of negative self talk?

[deleted account]

I think all emotions are valid and should be expressed--even the negative ones. We cannot control what we feel, but be have definite control over how we express it, and the actions those emotions cause us to take.

You and I would agree on the proper way to express anger, but I consider it expressing anger, and you consider it suppressing anger.
If something makes me angry, I will think about a rational way to remedy the situation and take action to do so. I might not scream and throw things, because that would be an improper way to express anger, but I am still angry--for me, there is no way to change that.

I don't think we should teach our kids that they should never be angry, but we should teach them that when they are angry, it is not okay to scream, hurt people, or break things, and teach them how to devise a plan that would restore their emotional state to happiness.

Does that make sense? It's okay to BE angry, but it's not okay to take the anger out in a way that hurts someone/something else.

Jenn - posted on 02/05/2011

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I don't know how you can help but to feel what you feel, and sometimes you do feel angry. I think what you're getting at is to hold onto that anger is not healthy, but to feel anger is healthy IMO. I do believe that all emotions are OK and "normal". Finding ways to deal with all of our emotions is something that most of us haven't grasped yet.

Jessica - posted on 02/05/2011

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I think its normal for children and adults to feel the emotion anger, but to be taught that its normal and should be expressed in an appropriate way such as talking about the problem and what we can do to fix it. Teaching them that when they do feel angry not to act on it by hitting or hurting someone, but to talk about it and resaolve the issue thats causing anger.

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