Did you know that getting upset is normal for a healthy human being? That a healthy human being gets upset whenever something that was expected and wanted or not wanted occurred or didn’t occur by the time it was expected? Did you know that your getting upset is not caused by what just occurred but by something similar that occurred in your past? And it could be from when you were two or three years old or older?
Thus, perhaps surprisingly, getting upset means that you are a healthy functioning human being. And it means you have a healthy child if your child gets upset. And critiquing anyone (including yourself) for getting upset as bad, wrong, or worse, results in guilt, avoidance, and shuts down communication.
I used to feel guilty about getting upset and tried to hide it, even as classmates in elementary school tried to make me mad because “I never got mad.” Later, in my late twenties, I learned that I “shouldn’t” get upset at young children - bad, bad, especially for a preschool teacher! And of course, children getting upset is not tolerated well by us parents and teachers. The message we relay to them is frequently “you shouldn’t get upset,” or “you shouldn’t stay upset this long!”, or some message that implies “shouldn’t.” If parents examine this closely while it is happening, or look back at it as soon as they are not upset, they will notice that they are upset whenever their child is upset or is remaining upset.
Our habitual parent-thinking doesn’t allow us the time to examine this. But it’s worth considering each time. Why? Because your child’s upset will pass as soon as it is fully accepted, first by you which leads to being accepted by your child for what it is - an automatic (triggered) emotional response. There is no intention to be a problem or make anyone else upset (though that can be being learned from you). Hard to get this? Take a minute and recall the last time you got upset about something that happened. Did you stop when that something happened and think, “Okay, I’ll get upset now?”
Engaging with your child to stop it, to fix it, or get rid of it only keeps reactivating it. Many of us learned to avoid our children's or our parents' upsets by either leaving the area or sending our children out of the area. While there is nothing wrong with that, your child will learn to avoid you whenever an upset (some potentially emotional response) might be occurring or about to occur. And that is when you could be the most useful and appreciated role model as a valued listener.