Parenting is a remarkable journey filled with love, growth, and the opportunity to shape our children’s lives. For parents who did not experience an upbringing that encouraged open expression of feelings and thoughts, it can be challenging to navigate the path of nurturing emotional connection with their own children. This blog post aims to provide guidance and support for parents who want to parent with empathy, creating a safe space for expression and emotional connection, even when messages in their mind may suggest that being too emotional is a problem.

Recognize the Power of Empathy:

If your child comes home from school upset or if they start the day off cranky, try to understand their perspective. It can be easy to forget that the things that seem monumental to children often reflect their stage of life. Ask open-ended questions to encourage them to share their feelings. Validate their emotions by saying, “It sounds like you had (or are having) a tough day. What happened to make you feel like this? I’m here to listen.” For small children that may not be able to express themselves, you want to give them a little space to let their feelings out and then come in with validating words and touch (hug, patting back, hold hand, etc.).

Practical Tip: Practice active listening with your child by giving them your full attention, maintaining eye contact, and providing verbal and non-verbal cues that show you understand and care about what they’re saying.

Understand the Impact of Past Experiences:

Reflect on your own upbringing and think about any negative messages (verbal or non-verbal) you received about emotions. Challenge those messages by reminding yourself that allowing your child to express their emotions openly is healthy and promotes their overall well-being.

Practical Tip: Write down any negative beliefs you have about emotions and counter them with positive and empowering statements. Repeat these affirmations daily to rewire your thinking.

Challenging Limiting Beliefs:

Instead of seeing emotional expression as a weakness, reframe it as an opportunity for child growth, understanding, and stronger relationship with parent. Emphasize that emotions are a natural part of being human and can lead to healthier relationships and problem-solving skills.

Practical Tip: Engage in regular conversations with your child about emotions, sharing stories and examples from your own life experiences. Encourage them to express their feelings and validate their emotions without judgment or criticism.

Cultivating Emotional Intelligence:

Help your child identify and label their emotions by using emotion words and discussing various scenarios. For instance, ask them how they feel when they receive a compliment or when they’re facing a difficult situation.

Practical Tip: Practice deep breathing exercises or mindfulness activities together as a family to promote emotional regulation and self-awareness. Encourage your child to express their emotions through creative outlets like journaling, drawing, or dancing.

Modeling Emotional Expression:

Share your own feelings with your child in an age-appropriate manner. For instance, say, “I feel proud of you for your hard work” or “I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed right now, but I’m taking deep breaths to calm down.”

Practical Tip: When faced with challenging emotions, model healthy coping mechanisms such as taking breaks, engaging in physical activity, or practicing self-care. Show your child that it’s okay to seek support from others when needed.

Creating a Safe and Supportive Environment:

Create a dedicated space in your home where your child can retreat to when they need time alone or want to express their emotions without distractions or interruptions.

Practical Tip: Set aside specific times to have open conversations as a family, allowing everyone to share their thoughts and feelings. Avoid judgment or criticism and focus on active listening and understanding.

Practicing Self-Compassion:

Demonstrate self-compassion. Practice self-care, seek support, and prioritize your well-being. Acknowledge and validate your own emotions. Being able to do this for yourself makes it easier to do the same for your child.

Practical Tip: Encourage your child to engage in self-care activities that promote their emotional well-being, such as pursuing hobbies, spending time in nature, practicing mindfulness, or seeking support from friends and trusted adults.


Parenting with empathy requires a conscious effort to create a safe space for expression and emotional connection. Despite messages that suggest being too emotional is problematic, we have the power to challenge those beliefs and embrace a more compassionate approach. We have the opportunity to rewrite the narrative and break free from the limitations imposed by past experiences. By embracing empathy, compassion, and open communication, we create an environment that supports our children’s emotional well-being and fosters strong parent-child relationships.


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