We’ve all been there. Your emotional child has showered themselves with their tears- they won’t stop crying. – and they won’t let up. Sometimes we can’t help but roll our eyes or cover our ears with all the crying…again for the third time of the day. It becomes frustrating and overwhelming because you want to finish your grocery shopping, put away the dishes or even give them a bath.
You’ve tried walking away, pretending you don’t hear or you continuously ask them “What’s wrong but to no avail. What do you do then? At this point, you’re feeling like there is nothing else you can do to calm down the situation and you just want to give in or give up!
Is THIS you? This issue your child is struggling with is called Emotional Regulation. Emotional regulation describes your child’s ability to respond to environmental stimuli with a range of emotions in a controlled manner (Panfile and Laible 2012). Children can vary in their ability to emotionally regulate. Some are quick to get past a situation, and other children (usually sensitive) tend to have a harder time overcoming emotional difficulties.
As the emotionally intelligent parent you are, how can you help your Emotional child develop greater emotional regulation when they are distressed.
How about we try a different approach? These simple points will help you empower your child, when they can’t self regulate. Keep in mind this is more useful for younger children.
Breathing is GOOD:
Whenever your emotional child is about to cry or on the verge of crying, try and show your child how to breathe. Explain to them that sometimes taking a break and stepping back from the trigger can help.
- Show them how to close their eyes and to think of good thoughts or nothing at all
- Show them how to breathe in slowly through their nose, hold it in and then slowly let it out through their mouth
- Show them how to count to 10
These simple techniques can help to ground the child. This is also helpful if they feel angry or upset about something that had happened at school or at home.
Distract their mind and tears:
Ask them a random question like “Did you know your cousin is coming over on Saturday? The goal is to help them get their mind off the issue at hand. Distraction is helpful when other options are not working. It’s pretty difficult to be focused on your frustration, when your mind has been interrupted by another thought-worthy event like “the rabbit in the backward!!
Teach your child about “Self Talk”. Self talk is a psychological tool and it resembles a conversation we have with ourselves that can reinforce positive or negative thoughts. Ideally, we want our children to know it’s okay to argue with ourselves about our thoughts. For instance, if your child just lost a game, their mind would naturally gravitate to thinking thoughts like “we’re losers” which would yield certain emotions and behaviors. – A more helpful thought could be “We lost today but tomorrow is another day we can win”. Self talk is a great skill to teach your child at a young age so it’s honed by time they get to adolescence or adulthood when it can be used to navigate through life’s challenges.
Whenever your child starts to lose emotional control, tell them that it is okay to hug themselves, or ask someone for a hug, play with a special toy or go to a special room they feel safe. Everyone needs to be comforted when they are going to through difficult moments. Don’t discourage the need for a child to seek external healthy vices to gain comfort.
Explore and Express:
Some children are unable to express their feelings in a manner that appeases their pain. If your child is either too young, or doesn’t have the vocabulary to explain their emotions, you can aid them by asking them questions. You can use items they can relate to such as: Do you feel like a balloon that’s ready to pop? Or do you feel you are all alone. Help them put words to their feelings. You can even ask them to draw what they are feeling.
The goal is to let your child know their feelings matter and they must be dealt with, however their emotions do not and will not justify bad behaviors that may result from feeling bad.
If you have any concerns about an overly emotional child that has a hard time calming down, and are seeking any type of support. Contact Positive Kids.
Positive Kids has the right tools and programs that will help build your child’s emotional intelligence. If you have any questions, please call or email us!