Small kids can still have big feelings, and every human being has to deal with uncomfortable emotions at some point. You can help your child manage their emotions with a few simple tricks.
Acknowledge their Experience
It’s easy to downplay what a child is going through because it doesn’t seem like a big deal to you. However, this is a mistake. If a child is upset, acknowledge what made them upset and validate their feelings. This goes a long way in helping a child feel seen, and that helps them feel like they have someone to listen to them.
This one step can help a child calm down enough to talk through what is going on inside his head or body.
Lead by Example
It’s impossible to help your kids handle their emotions if we don’t know how to handle yours. That’s why parents need to be the example if they want their kids to understand how to handle big feelings. This means making sure you are prioritizing caring for your own needs so you will be able to meet your children where they are at with compassion.
You don’t have to hide big feelings from your kids. You should talk them through what you are experiencing so they can understand your process. When appropriate, you can share what is making you sad or frustrated, then you can explain to your child what you are going to do as you process through these feelings. You can even try taking parent coaching classes and become certified as a parent coach in a few months. This will offer you even more ways to be an example of conscious, gentle parenting to your kids.
Prioritize the Basics
The foundation of emotional regulation comes down to a few basics. Kids need to get enough sleep and eat healthy meals regularly to stay balanced. Though this doesn’t ensure big emotions won’t appear, it does at least help eliminate common problems kids experience when they are sleep-deprived or hungry.
Your child should also stay hydrated and be physically active. Going outside for walks or simply play can help boost a child’s mental health, and this can keep emotions from getting out of control. Limit screen time and go outside and hike with your child instead.
Look for Triggers
A child’s emotions don’t often come out of nowhere. There is usually a trigger that causes a certain reaction, and finding the trigger can help you help your child. Pay attention to what happens right before your child becomes sad, angry, or anxious. Ask questions to help her tell you what upset her and caused her to react in the first place.
Remember that anger can also hide other emotions that kids aren’t ready to deal with or don’t know how to process. Though it may seem like your child is angry, the emotion underneath might be frustration, fear, or sadness. Dig deeper to find the cause and the emotion that may be hiding underneath a huge outburst.
Create a Toolbox
If you want to manage a situation, you need the right tools. This is true even when we’re talking about a child’s behavior. Make sure your child knows what resources are available so they have help when big emotions take control.
You can create a calm down kit with your child and include fidget toys, stress balls, and jars of glitter water. All of these offer their hands something to do while their emotions try to get steady. If your child likes to draw and communicates better by expressing feelings through a non-verbal medium, make sure to have paper and drawing utensils in the calm down area.
Weighted blankets can help with anxiety, and a journal to write down feelings can help kids work through their feelings. There will also be times when a child needs to physically express feelings. Provide a safe place for your kid to let out a scream. Have a designated punching pillow if your child needs to release anger or frustration. This helps teach your kids that no emotion is wrong, but they have to be expressed in a way that doesn’t harm anyone else.
Dealing with comfortable and uncomfortable emotions is a part of life. Help your kids learn how to manage what they are feeling so they can thrive.