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We can’t protect our kids from their emotions—in fact, we shouldn’t

When my client Daniel first came to see me, he couldn’t understand why his 4-year-old daughter was throwing severe tantrums when she didn’t get her way. He told me, “It’s like Emma can’t deal with anything. She freaks out over every little thing, especially when she doesn’t get her way.”


He couldn’t understand why, after all his hard work and the comfortable lifestyle he’d created for his family, his daughter still didn’t seem happy with anything. The more upset he saw her get, the easier it was for him to just give in to her.

What Daniel didn’t understand, however, is that even though you can momentarily relieve another person’s anguish, you can’t take away their suffering forever. In fact, trying to do so may actually harm you and make things worse for the people you’re attempting to shelter from the facts of life.

It’s a simple fact of life that everyone is guaranteed the experience of not getting what they want, and not being instantly gratified. And as they get older, there will be countless things they’ll have to do on a daily basis they won’t necessarily like.

Unfair things will happen to them, regardless of who they are. But the same applies to our children as applies to everyone.

By attempting to shelter the people we love from the natural process of life, we rob them of the ability to develop the strength and resilience they need to overcome challenging circumstances.

If we never take off the bubble wrap and rarely say no, our children may become incapable of tolerating or managing the inconveniences of life—they’ll demand instant gratification and, over time, develop impulse control issues.

When we see our beloved children suffering from their inability to tolerate difficulty, and we don’t understand why this is happening, we invest all our energy into helping them. We try harder to shelter them, instead of allowing them to be anxious and find their own way to deal with life’s inevitable disappointments.

Daniel was acting with the best of intentions. He thought he was being a good parent, and the last thing he meant to do was contribute to his daughter’s inability to cope with difficult circumstances. Although Daniel couldn’t change the past, he could learn how his need to shelter, say yes, and fix everything was getting in the way of his daughter’s ability to manage herself during tantrums.

It’s natural for parents to want to protect their children from being upset; it feels unnatural to watch them cry.

However, if we learn how to distinguish real hurt from an opportunity for our children to explore and learn to manage their own emotions, we’ll be more capable of taking a step back when necessary. We’ll allow them to learn that it’s okay to shed the bubble wrap and stop being sheltered by the word “yes.”

So should I just let my kid cry?

I get it. When we’re caught up in the moment, it’s easy to do whatever it takes to calm our children down. However, the consequences of overprotecting our children in this way can lead to worse consequences. Research shows that children who have been overly protected from their own emotions lack a sense of agency over their own lives and are more prone to develop unfulfilling relationships in the future.

Instead of trying to rescue our children from potential hurt feelings, we can better serve them by resisting the urge to step in, take over, and give in.

Modeling mature emotional regulation in difficult situations might be challenging in the short-term, but the long-term benefits are more than worth it. Setting children up to be content in life doesn’t happen by sheltering them from suffering—rather, it comes from teaching them how to self-soothe during difficult times.

Daniel began to show his daughter how to manage challenging emotions like anger, frustration, and, disappointment instead of trying to shield her from them.

Instead of running to her rescue, he sat with his discomfort and allowed her to get through her own. When parents effectively manage their emotions in front of their children, they help their children develop emotional maturity.

This is important work for us to take on, because children who don’t learn how to regulate their feelings will look outside themselves for sources of soothing as they get older. They might self-medicate with food, drugs, and alcohol; hold on to bad relationships; and become codependent. When they become too anxious, too sad, or too easily triggered, they may end up reaching for counterproductive ways to reduce their anxiety in the moment.

So what’s the takeaway here? Allow your children to work through difficult feelings; don’t try to stop them from falling by giving in.

The times we tend to get stumped with our children are usually our best opportunities for maturity and growth—not only theirs, but ours too! Children won’t fall apart due to difficult emotions if you model for them what it’s like to work through them.

As parenting expert Robin Berman, M.D puts it, “A big part of mental health is feeling at home with your emotions, knowing that you will not have to avoid feelings, or numb them, but knowing that you have the emotional flexibility and emotional resilience to feel safe with yourself.”

We're so glad to live in a time when modern baby gear exists. Sure, no one is going to argue that having a baby is easy—but it can be easier with support from some gadgets designed to help your baby and put your mind at ease.

As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!


A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.

$239.99

A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.

$219.99

A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.

$379.99

A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.

$29.99

A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.

$99.99

A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.

$15.99

A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.

$79.99

A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.

$99.99

An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.

$24.99

A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.

$59.99

And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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