There are no barriers to age when it comes to emotions. Even kids can misbehave, act out, and have sleep issues as a result of a disruption in their routine. Not many people are happy with their routines, but it is very easy for adults to find creative ways to manage chaos and help live life. This is not always the case for kids as they have no control on what happens.
One challenge of parents is to deal with children who will experience all types of emotions and sometimes all at once. They might have to face circumstances they don’t like. Helping your child to grow emotionally involves teaching them to recognize certain emotional responses in themselves and then to express those feelings appropriately.
To develop skills in this area will not only help your child to relate better to others but also manage his or her behaviour. They have to learn to cope with all kinds of situations. It may also be great for your relationship with your little one. your child will grow in their capacity to explain their disappointments or frustrations with words, rather than acting out.
As parents, you can’t insulate your children from the ups and downs of life. What you can actually do is teach them to navigate those experiences in a way that grows their personal character as well as preserves and enhances the relationships in their lives. You have to teach them how to channelise their emotions in the right direction.
It’s important for your child to recognize and define how they are feeling. Start teaching them about emotions so they learn that things that may seem overwhelming actually have a name. Teach them about each and every emotion and how to perceive them. Teach them that it is normal to feel, in fact it is a very good thing. It is the only thing that makes you feel alive.
You can also strike up conversations about feelings by talking about characters in books or on TV shows. Every once in a while, ask questions such as, “How do you think this character feels?” With practice, your child’s ability to label their emotions will improve. The more you have a conversation about it, the more the child will learn. Emotional awareness can help kids be mentally strong, even when they feel emotions deeply.
“We’re all creatures of habit, but for kids, in particular, routines and the structure of everyday life provide predictability in a life where they don’t have a lot of control.”
- ABIGAIL GEWIRTZ, PHD, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST
Kids’ sense of control comes from relying on structure and routine, and when those things are gone, it’s a lot harder for them to cope. So here are a few ways that we feel are best to help them manage their emotions and feel better.
- Maintain a Strict Schedule
If there is any phase in life which needs a strict schedule, it is for the infants or the toddlers who would just start going to preschool. Whenever possible, try to follow a similar schedule and routine most (if not all) days of the week, especially when it comes to mealtime, bedtime, and activities.
That said, it’s OK to have days when success is achieved if your toddler gets out of their pajamas. It is just a schedule that might help them take control of their lives which is otherwise very difficult as a child.
- Stay Calm
Infants are capable of a lot more than they are given credit for. They can sense when you are upset and anxious, so it’s critical that we model ways to manage our emotions. “When parents control their own anxiety and emotions, their kids (of all ages), but especially toddlers, respond positively,” says Gene Beresin, MD, executive director of the Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Mass General Hospital.
Parents need to seek support from friends, partners, and family and rely on whatever healthy ways they typically use to manage their emotional reactions.
- Give feelings a label.
Your little one might not even understand what they are feeling. They have to be told what feeling refers to what. These names will be as basic as mad, sad, and happy. As your child grows, those terms will become more specific and refined, such as frustrated, disappointed, or anxious. Identifying and naming feelings is essential to learning how to cope with them. This is the first step towards feeling their emotions.
- Discover the trigger.
It is your responsibility to help your child discover the reason behind their feeling in a particular way. It might have been when you said “No” to something he asked to do or something said or done by a sibling or friend. Once that is discovered, it will help them as well as you to understand how to cope up with emotions.
- Affirm the right to talk it out.
Only you can make your child feel like they are not an odd one out. Everyone feels these emotions and there is always a right and a wrong way to express them. Let them know that they may not be able to help feeling how they do, but they can and should manage how they express that feeling. Your child must learn to be responsible for his or her words and reactions, regardless of the situation.
- Teach specific coping skills.
It might take a while to understand what suits your little one but eventually it may be helpful to your child to learn to remove herself from a situation or take some time to think before responding. For a younger child, it might be as simple as counting to 10 before reacting.
- Don’t try to fix everything.
Sometimes it is not necessary to try to fix things but only listen. Sometimes your little ones would want to just be heard and want someone to tell them that it is okay. Good parenting means training them to handle whatever they encounter with emotional maturity and integrity.
- Give emotional support.
This is the most important thing that a parent can learn to do. This is what children need in life. A good hug and an acknowledgment that you know how they feel. When your child is working through something, keep the standards of behavior high, but show lots of affection to help them along. Additionally, tell them how proud you are when you see them handling their emotions with increasing maturity and reacting appropriately to tough situations.
This is how you can just be there for them :
Separate Feelings vs. Behaviors
Validate and Relate
Teach Emotion Regulation
When to Seek Professional Help
While emotional regulation learning begins in one’s toddler years, research shows that it generally takes kids until they are 8 or 9 to really have significant control of it. So, it’s very possible that even children who aren’t normally overly emotional by nature may go through a period where it seems like the tears keep coming or they are experiencing angry outbursts a lot. And remember, it is not a taboo to go for professional help. If your child is suffering you should be able to help them in any way possible.
A little extra support, direction, and patience from you may be all they need to learn how to handle their emotions in appropriate ways. The process can be overwhelming at times, but the work you put into it can benefit your child for a lifetime. Just be proud of them for being emotionally intelligent and of yourselves to handle not just your but their emotions as well.
Feel your emotions!