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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
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