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From The Vault: How to Handle Your Child’s Big Emotions in a Positive Way 

How to Handle Your Child’s Big Emotions in a Positive Way
By Sarah R Moore 


Before we have children, we can’t possibly fathom how challenging holding space for a child’s big feelings can sometimes be. We naively think, “Oh, just hug them or tell them things will be alright, and they’ll pull through.” 

While hugs and encouraging words are indeed helpful, what are we to do with the messy space before the child is alright again? How do we stay peaceful and present when our child’s emotions are crashing down around us?  

The work starts within 

Our first task is to gently examine our family of origin. Especially if – during our own childhood – we weren’t met with presence, patience or unconditional acceptance when we exhibited big feelings, our inner child may be a strong invisible presence alongside us. They may be longing to be soothed and comforted, too.  

Perhaps our inner child is helpful, subconsciously urging us on with words of affirmation: “You’re doing an amazing job showing up for your child. This is the love you always deserved.” 

Alternatively, our inner child may be whispering to our adult brain the same messages we heard when we were children: “This is unacceptable. Big feelings are NOT safe here and I must put a stop to them.” 

With this silent party – our inner child – showing up in whatever way they do, it’s no wonder calming the child in front of us needs to begin with finding peace with the child within us. 

“All of your feelings are safe here” 

You need to learn an important lesson that helps us hold space for our children’s big feelings. It’s this simple mantra: “All of your feelings are safe here.”  

When we say this aloud, not only does it tell our child that they’re free to express themselves, but it’s also a reminder to us, the adult, that our job is to create emotional safety. 

Further, you should have the view that all feelings are messengers. No feeling is inherently good or bad. If we can take time to decode the message behind our child’s big feelings (or perhaps our own), our path forward will become more clear. 

A final paradigm shift is that the “path forward” from our child’s emotions isn’t necessarily to fix them. Instead, the biggest task at hand may simply be to allow them to feel them. We can welcome them, knowing that they’re all here to support our child in one way or another. 

  • Grief releases trauma. Tears are healthy.  
  • Anger tells us that a boundary is in question and should be examined.  
  • Happiness tells us that we want more of whatever’s happening.  


This is true for all ages: all of our feelings are safe here, as are our children’s.  We can validate feelings even if we don’t understand or agree with them. 

All humans have an innate need to be “seen” and to have our feelings validated. Knowing this, we must often reframe what we heard growing up into something more supportive. 


  • Rather than “Oh, you had an argument? I’m sure you’ll make up with your friend tomorrow.” Instead, we say, “Yes, I understand that you’re upset about your friend. What she said was hurtful. You make sense to me.” 
  • Rather than: “Oh, that’s nothing to worry about” (which is dismissive) try: “Everyone gets worried sometimes. It’s okay to worry, and we can come up with something to help you feel safer.” 


True, we might not feel the same way our child does about a situation, but we can acknowledge that their upsets are as real to them as ours are to us.  

When we create emotional safety and validation around the so-called “little things” when our children are young, they’ll be more likely to come to us with their “big things” when they’re older. 


Sarah R. Moore is a certified Master Trainer of conscious parenting and the author of Peaceful Discipline: Story Teaching, Brain Science, and Better Behavior. She’s also the founder of Dandelion Seeds Positive Parenting ( Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter & Pinterest. This article was first published in our Jan 2023 issue.