Allowing the Bad Feelings Rise up...and leave

Tanya Kemp

Allowing the bad feelings to rise up…and leave

Life at home with the kids at the moment is intense and whether this happens around 5pm, or 9 am, I am sure everyone can relate to the “I have just had it with all of this…the kids are screaming at each other, my wife is yelling at them and they’re all complaining reasoning, rationalising their point. I don’t want to hear from anybody about who feels what or why! I just want it to stop!” frame of mind that beset us all at some, or multiple points during the day. 

The frustration around finding a way to just survive a day in the house with our beloved children is unbelievable. The worst thing about it is that it doesn’t stop. Every day we have to get up to do it all over again. It’s maddening. 

The irony in this is that if we have any hope of ‘ending’ the strong negative emotions our kids may act out in relation to their siblings, we will have to allow those feelings to rise, be heard, invited in and treated with respect. If we block the expression of our children’s rage, that anger will lie in waiting…..and reappear in some way shape or form – either as physical symptoms or mental/emotional problems. 

When we, as human beings don’t feel that we are permitted to express our feelings, we are left feeling powerless, guilty, crazy, defeated and abandoned, isolated and misunderstood. Our kids experience those same feelings…and where siblings are involved, it can leave them with the burning desire to ‘do harm’ to their sibling. Resentment builds and on that kind of foundation, it becomes incredibly hard to build connection.

So the lesson for today: instead of dismissing or disallowing negative feelings about a sibling, acknowledge the feelings. Give your child the opportunity to feel heard/felt. Meet their anger with compassion. If the anger turns to tears, you have made huge progress in allowing those feelings to rise, and leave. Sadness is a very important emotion and we are doing them a favour to guide them to that place. We won’t guide them there with anger. 

We guide them there with compassion, care, understanding, and empathy.

By acknowledging both the ‘wrong-do’er’ and the ‘wronged’ in sibling arguments, we also equalise the power dynamic. In so doing we are avoiding being the ‘judge’ and instead are giving both children the respect and consideration by hearing them, empathizing with them and we’re teaching valuable conflict resolution skills ☺


-Acknowledge your child’s negative feelings towards a sibling – even at the height of their rage, by:


This is a bit tongue in cheek, but hey, most of us can do with a giggle.

Put your kids in the ‘we will get along’ – shirt and get them to move around or do some activity together ☺

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Acknowledging that this strategy may not work for EVERYONE ;) here is another sibling connection game you might want to try:

The ball roll: Give the kids a long piece of cardboard and a ball. Have each of them hold one end of the cardboard and get them to roll the ball back and forth between them, trying to keep the ball from dropping. For kids with motor/coordination problems – have a parent stand behind and hold the cardboard with the child from behind. The proximity of parent to child is regulating and scaffolds the child’s success. Also – you can add a rule that there is no speaking allowed while the play ☺


Self-Compassion Break 

Think of a situation in your life that is difficult, that is causing you stress.
Call the situation to mind, and see if you can actually feel the stress and emotional discomfort in your body. 

Now, say to yourself: 

  1. This is a moment of suffering 

Other options include

  1. Suffering is a part of life 

That’s common humanity. Other options include

Now, put your hands over your heart, feel the warmth of your hands and the gentle touch of your hands on your chest.
Or adopt the soothing touch you discovered felt right for you. 

Say to yourself: 

  1. May I be kind to myself

You can also ask yourself, “What do I need to hear right now to express kindness to 

myself?” Is there a phrase that speaks to you in your particular situation, such as: 

This practice can be used any time of day or night, and will help you remember to evoke the three aspects of self-compassion when you need it most.