Emotional Reasoning: Tough day?


As adults, it is easier for us to identify when we are letting our emotions get the better of us, but it is still difficult at the best of times. For kids, it is even more difficult. Luckily, there are ways that you can help your child identify emotional reasoning and help them overcome it.

The technical definition of emotional reasoning is the act of defining reality with an emotional reaction. It’s when someone replaces facts with what they believe to be true.


That’s a little tough to really understand, so here are some examples.


- You feel guilty about something, even though you had nothing to do with it. You end up believing that you are guilty and will justify that guilt however you can.

- You feel like you will never lose weight, even though you lost ten pounds this month. You end up thinking yourself overweight forever and see little value in your hard work.

- Your child feels dumb because they got a C+ on their test, even though they consistently get A’s.


Emotional reasoning can be crippling to your child’s determination and can undermine their desire to try new things or put any effort into their work going forward. The overwhelming power of emotional reasoning can be much stronger than what they see with their own eyes or what they are told is true.


So what can you do to help your child get past their emotional reasoning? Here are some lessons I convey during life coaching sessions.


1. Understand that feelings are powerful. Emotional reasoning is so overwhelming because feelings are very powerful. This is especially true in kids and teenagers, who haven’t had the life experience necessary to understand how to cope with these feelings. Don’t think that your child will ‘just get over it’. Help get to the root of their emotions.


2. Reflection. Reflecting on their day is one of the most beneficial habits you can get your child in to. If you take a little bit each evening to talk about your kid’s day, not only will you develop a stronger bond with them, but you will discover potential learning opportunities and you will be able to dissect any instances of emotional reasoning.


3. Encourage open conversation. Use words that will get your kids talking about their emotions. Describe things as exciting, disappointing, scary, or something they should be proud of. Be open to them when they open up to you about their feelings. Try to understand where those feelings are coming from.


4. Help them see the truth. Using the three lessons above, try to get your child to see the truth of a situation, not what they think is the truth. It will be tough…emotional reasoning is a distortion of reality that is not easy to beat. Take your time with your child, prove them wrong by highlighting their accomplishments or things they should be happy about. At first, you might just get an ‘okay’, but continued practice will lessen the impact of emotional reasoning.

Whatever you do, don’t think that your child is immune to emotional reasoning or that they will just get over it. Everyone is susceptible to their feelings, but children are even more vulnerable to it.

If left unchecked, emotional reasoning can lead to low self-esteem down the road in life. It can stop them from living life to its fullest and let them settle into a job or role that they hate.

Help your child beat their emotional reasoning and set them up for success down the road!