Children: The Challenge of Expressing Emotions

As you may know, anxiety in children has been growing consistently over the past several years. A big contributor to anxiety is the increase in school work, concepts being introduced younger and younger, and the constant tally on missing assignments. You may not know that new concepts are built upon each day, instead of a few days at a time. That means every day is a learning curve and students get behind quickly if they miss even one class. That’s a lot of pressure.

When COVID hit, the fast pace our kids were used to came to an abrupt halt. Imagine a train running at full speed, stopping on a dime. Emotionally, mentally and physically our kids have been running at full speed for years; then suddenly no school, sports, friends or community. Kids were initially relieved by the break from school, then devastated by the uncertainty and losses they experienced.

Schools created Distance Learning as a way to return to school. That resulted in a lot of additional issues at home. Teachers and parents were asked to control things they couldn’t control. Children were stuck in the middle of a LOT of frustrated adults, still feeling the pressure to produce work. Not surprisingly, depression increased across the board, as kids have not had the time, energy or ability to process their feelings. This is referred to as “emotional constipation.”

Following are 8 Tips for turning things around:

  1. Limit the amount of time your kids do school/homework each day. I know that is risky and many parents have no faith in their kids to spend the time wisely. This isn’t about getting school work done; it’s about giving your kids an opportunity to have balance and to process life around them. You can work out the bugs as you go. (I can help with that, if needed.)
  2. Slow down. Multi-tasking creates a lot of stress. When you are having a conversation with your child, stop what you’re doing and be present (with eye contact). It will make such a difference!
  3. Talk to your kids about things other than school. Most kids think their parents only care about grades. Show your kids that’s not true.
  4. Listen when your kids want to talk (no matter what time is it). A great article about that is Magic at Midnight .
  5. Give grace when they are struggling. Instead of being upset with what isn’t getting done, have compassion and work as a team to resolve the issues.
  6. Prioritize health over grades. Self-care is an important life lesson. A great article is Children and Self-Care.
  7. Connect as a family, whether taking a bike ride, dinners together or watching a movie.
  8. Encourage your children to cry. Listen, empathize and validate. Let them go through their emotions. (Note: There is a difference between feeling “emotions” and having tantrums and being disrespectful.)

There are endless ways to roll this out for each family. It depends on ages, grades, goals, relationships, willingness, needs, schedules, etc. If you’d like some assistance for your family, feel free to schedule a complimentary 15-minute phone call with me.

Children build an entire life on the foundation they create in childhood. As parents, we need to take great care in helping them build a solid platform for their life.

Traci L. Williams is the Founder of A Loving Way to Parent. She is known for her intuitive and practical approach to parenting. She can be reached directly at 951-240-1407 (text or call) or email her at

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