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Let Babies Get Mad!

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Guest blogger Jessica Katz: When my daughter first started crawling, she would want a toy and not be able to reach it. I didn't know what to do ... she would get so frustrated. I would wonder, Do I get the toy for her, or let her grunt and groan? I did not want her to feel frustrated and angry, but it turns out she should. Let your babies get mad!

angry looking baby
Kids no longer feel frustration and anger over losing a sports game. They no longer feel disappointed or long for things, because they have so much immediate gratification. They don't feel sadness, because we buffer them from all of the upsetting triggers.

Recently, a friend called and told me about her son's basketball game. I asked her who won, and she told me, "No one wins. They don't play for points. Everyone gets a trophy." Then I turned on the news and heard about bullying and kids taking their own lives.

Real life is full of disappointment, unfair situations, bullies, hurt feelings and losing.We are setting our kids up for failure by not helping them build the skills to cope with these situations. Rather than giving them the tools to battle bullies, try harder after they lose a game or soothe themselves when things don't go their way, we just eliminate the situations altogether.

And perhaps when they are small children, that's OK. But once they grow up and enter the "real world," we won't be able to shield them from every pitfall. Life is not fair. Life is hard. People can be mean. You don't get your way. Sometimes you lose.

As my daughter learns to walk, she gets mad and frustrated. She cries and falls (a lot). And I'm letting her feel all of those feelings. She needs to know that those feelings are out there, and it is OK to feel them. I never let her enter a danger zone, but a little disappointment is OK.

Bullying is wrong and no one should ever feel the need to end their life because of it. But kids also need to learn to stand up for themselves and handle their emotions. Kids push my daughter over all the time; she's small for her age. Parents always want me to intervene, but I say, "Let them push her over. When she's had enough, she'll learn to push back."

next: Heaven and Hell: Life with Multiple Kids
62 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anya October 28, 2010, 8:21 AM

Wonderful article and so true!! Society has been on this kick of raising kids to be “special little snowflakes” who get everything their way and everyone gets a gold star without putting in a whit of effort, without feeling mad, frustrated, etc. because mommmy does everything for them.

I love when you said “When she’s had enough, she’ll push back”. Good for you for raising a child who will be able to take care of herself in life!!

Larissa October 28, 2010, 9:57 AM

Great article. With a 13 month old at home, I’m going through that right now

Pamala October 28, 2010, 12:36 PM

When my daughter would fall and still to this day when she does get hurt as long as it’s not serious I say, “Well get up, it’s not that bad.” They have to learn that things aren’t always wonderful. There are bad times. Crap happens. But you get up and go on. And I do think there is a push to make our children always happy but life itself isn’t always happy. Imagine how it feels for a child who was so sheltered in childhood and moves out to find that life isn’t all rainbows and roses?

anonymous October 28, 2010, 12:52 PM

While I think it’s great that you’re raising your daughter to be independent, I would encourage you to really consider whether it’s the best thing to just “let her be pushed around and handle it herself”. She is just a child, and having social problems can put a lot of emotional and psychological stress. Take it from me. Even though my parents protected me from bullies, etc., I still had a lot of issues when I got older. I would encourage you to discuss with your daughter how she’s feeling about being pushed around, and model with her ways to handle it.

If your daughter is already the personality type to do that anyway and she’s not bothered, that’s fine. But every child is different and encouraging other parents to do that as well may be harmful.

You can still be a parent and be involved without figuring out everything for your child.

Good article, regardless.

really October 28, 2010, 9:34 PM

I agree, Anonymous. Actually, I think a lot of kids see too mcuh of life and aren’t sheltered at all. The kids this author is speaking about are a small subset. And that subset is getting smaller with the fallout of this recession. Enjoy childhood, there is enough bad stuff out there that you will see. Comfort and love are found at home. The rael world will bring you down just fine.

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