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Kristen Bell shares her thoughts on telling kids “It’s OK!” and why she believes we shouldn’t dismiss their feelings so easily.

Kristin Bell and her husband, Dax Shepard, are raising two young daughters, 4-year-old Lincoln and 2-year-old Delta.

In an interview with Today to promote Neutrogena, the actress noted that she’s always hungry for advice about raising kids and new perspectives from other parents to help inform her own decisions.

“I am a parent that actually loves to hear advice from other mothers,” she said. “I don’t care if your filter is judgmental or altruistic — I still want to hear it because it may be valuable to me.”

Kristen shares an example of her parenting style, “I stopped saying, ‘It’s OK,’ to anything in their lives,” she explained.

“My older daughter gets embarrassed a lot, and I don’t say, ‘It’s OK. It’s OK.’ I simply sit next to her and I say, ‘Do you feel embarrassed?’ And she’ll say, ‘Yes.’ And I say, ‘I feel embarrassed, too, sometimes.

“Sometimes I trip and I feel embarrassed or I break a bowl and I feel embarrassed. I used to feel embarrassed a lot more as a kid, but as you become an adult, some of that stuff goes away.’”

“I think saying, ‘It’s OK,’ all the time doesn’t do anyone any favors. It just makes them subconsciously think that they’re not supposed to be having those feelings,” she noted.

“We tell them to have any feelings — even if it’s a tantrum and they’re screaming and crying,” the actress added. “I say, ‘You know what? You are allowed to be sad right now. You are allowed to be angry — that’s OK. But, you cannot be angry and sad in the middle of the living room while we’re having dinner. You’re welcome to go up to your bedroom and cry, but you’re not allowed to ruin everybody else’s evening because you’re having a tantrum.’”

“We let them have all of the emotions, but within reason and with respect for the world around them. That’s kind of our go-to.”


Related story: Teach kids kindness but also teach them it’s OK to be an arsehole


What the experts say

Jill Emanuele, senior clinical psychologist and director of training at the Child Mind Institute, told TIME, the most important thing for parents to do is to validate a kid’s worries. “When people say, ‘I’m worried or anxious,’” Emanuele points out, “the first thing a lot of people want to do is say, ‘You’re going to be fine. It’s going to be O.K.’”

But when parents take that tack, “you never give the person the opportunity to experience what they’re anxious about,” she says. Comforting words may provide temporary relief, but if anxiety is not faced head on, says Emanuele, it will come back again, even stronger.”

Instead, when kids are worried, parents can help them face their fears by asking them questions about their worries, and helping them come up with strategies to face their fears.

Constance Hall recently shared some info explaining why after being good all day, kids let their guard down when mum arrives.

Constance wrote, “I read an article once that stated studies proved that kids are 800% worse behaved when their mums are in the room.”

She goes on to explain, “Well recently a professional explained what is really going on.

“Yes, on the surface kids become way more hard work when mums around.

But that comes down to one thing, it takes so much for a littley to behave and suppress the many emotions and desires to explore naughty behaviours that pop into their heads during the day. But they don’t do it to be “good”.

They work so hard at being good because their strongest connection, most significant relationship isn’t their to take care of their emotions with them.  Read the full article here.

Do you think we need to stop telling kids “everything is OK”?

Share your comments below.

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  • that is a great way to validate what your child feels and it does take a lot of patience. this gal seems down to earth for an actress

    Reply

  • If my toddler tantrums he’s got to go do it somewhere else. We don’t tell him to stop when we’re at home because its a great opportunity for him to learn he can’t always get the outcome he wants and how to get over it himself.

    Reply

  • Some wise words. It’s always good to take the feelings our kids and the way they express their feelings serious listen to it and help our kids give it a place and understand them.

    Reply

  • If a child is upset about something and needs reassurance, if you don’t say OK are you going to say alright or is that not allowed either. Just because a child is upset and cries doesn’t mean he/she is having a tantrum. So they go to their room and cry. Are you going to go and talk to the child and discuss the issue if it isn’t blatant naughtiness.

    Reply

  • Everyone needs to have their feelings validated and to discuss things.

    Reply

  • some very good points to consider, I have been trying some of these myself recently

    Reply

  • Yep, it really is important to discuss the feeling. Saying “it’s ok” means something different to kids than it does to adults.

    Reply

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