The Catharsis of Venting

Sometimes we all feel the need to “vent” and air our frustrations to someone who will listen. Oftentimes, the goal of venting is not necessarily to find solutions, but to know someone hears and understands your frustrations.

Holding stress, anger, sadness, or anxiety inside can be emotionally draining and make anyone feel overwhelmed. Getting a chance to verbalize those feelings to someone who cares can make all the difference for someone’s ability to cope. The person who vents often gets a sense of relief or catharsis (the relief someone gets from sharing emotion) after getting some time to express themselves, especially if the source of frustration is a result of feeling unheard.

Feeling heard is incredibly important. People vent for different reasons: for example, if your child comes to vent to you, they may just want to be heard and get some stress out. It may be tempting to jump in and begin to problem-solve, but if your child does not want this, it may make them more frustrated, and as a result, affect both of you negatively. If you do find your child upset and wanting to vent, ask them what you can do to best support them, saying something like: “Do you want me to just listen right now – or do you want me to help you figure out what to do next? I’m happy to do either – whatever would help you the most right now.” 

When venting is done in a healthy way, there are even benefits to the listener, too! For example, it gives the listener a chance to connect and offer support to the one venting, which promotes closeness and bonding. The listener can also provide insight and a unique perspective after they have had the opportunity to hear about a problem.

Expressing our emotions is healthy and everyone needs to feel like someone is listening.

If you are interested in learning more about how venting can help, click here to read more.

Do you feel like your child often likes to vent about their issues? Do you struggle with the dilemma of problem solving versus listening?

Activity: Think about the last time your child vented to you about something – did it go well? why or why not? What could you do differently to help it go a bit better? Share with your observations with your child and ask for their feedback. Ask them about that conversation and how they felt. Give your feedback too.

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