10 Steps to Managing Big Emotions
Children have a lot of emotions building up in their little bodies, and it can be challenging to express those feelings appropriately. As they begin to learn what kind of behavior is appropriate and which is not, they will ultimately make some mistakes along the way.
Of course, some children have much more powerful feelings than others, and it can be hard to manage them! Remember—every child is unique and special in many ways. This is not the time to compare children; instead, it is an opportunity to help them navigate their emotions and become fantastic additions to society.
If you’ve got a child with some big emotions, you might find them hard to handle. Fortunately, other parents have been in the same boat! The following are the top ten tips that have worked for other parents with expressive kids.
1. Physical Harm is Not Okay
Expressing our big emotions is okay, but never when it includes hurting one’s self or anyone else. Children who revert to physical harm need to know that this kind of behavior is not acceptable in any situation.
Parents should make it clear that any abuse will not be tolerated, and children should understand why that is. They could seriously harm themselves or other people when lashing out, and this can result in much bigger problems.
2. Deep Breaths
Children often feel a lack of control when they’re expressing their big emotions, and this can be scary for them. They must know how to recognize these feelings and that they can reel them in when they are starting to occur.
One way to do this is by practicing some deep breathing techniques. Parents can encourage their children to start working on their breaths as soon as they feel a big emotion coming on so that they can divert their focus.
Practice the breathing technique with them, and reassure them by counting to ten with them, or counting their breaths. This approach will help them to feel more in control and less prone to lash out.
3. Encourage Communication
Big emotions are hard to express when your vocabulary is smaller, but this is precisely what children should try to do. Parents can inspire their children to talk about how their feeling as opposed to kicking, screaming or crying.
Show them how talking will help them to make their point much faster, and how tantrums are too hard for you to interpret.
When they feel the signs of distress coming on, ask them to explain how their feeling, and why it happened. Listen carefully and be attentive. Explaining themselves will help your children to learn how to manage their emotions.
4. Be Available to Help
Children should never feel embarrassed about their big emotions. Instead, they must recognize them and come to you for help if they need it.
When they do, do not shun them or put them down for their feelings. Instead, explain to them that their opinions are reasonable and that it’s okay to feel that way. Children who feel misunderstood or silly about their feelings may lash out even more.
5. Value This Time
When a child is winding down from a big emotion, parents are not in the clear just yet. Help them to calm down as much as possible, then talk about what just happened.
Communicating about the issue while it’s fresh in their mind can help them to express what went wrong, and how they managed to make themselves feel better. This may help them to remember useful tactics for next time.
6. Find a Calm Place
If your child struggles with their big emotions, try to create a space they can do to for winding down. In your home, you can easily create a quiet, calming space that isn’t overloaded with stimulus.
Have soft places to rest, perhaps some books, or calming music for them to enjoy. If you’re not at home, consider taking some critical items with you, such as a pillow, some books, or their favorite song. If you’re outdoors, consider finding a quiet place like a path or park to let them relax and re-focus.
7. Know the Signs
It can be advantageous to know the signs that your child exhibits when they’re having a hard time. If you see the symptoms that are common before a meltdown, act now before things get out of hand.
They may start to use a louder voice, and they may have a warmer temperature or a whiny voice. Take note of these things and be proactive in helping them manage their emotions.
8. Teach Kids the Words
Because children are trying to navigate their feelings, they must recognize how they’re feeling and what to do about it.
Parents can help with this by talking to their children about different emotions and what they are called. They can talk about words like “angry,” “frustrated,” or “surprised,” and explain why they’re acceptable.
Giving children a vocabulary for their feelings encourages them to talk about how they’re feeling. With this information, parents can take the next steps to help them based on the words their children are using.
Don’t forget, you can expand your child’s vocabulary even if they’re young. You don’t have to limit their words to “mad” and “happy”. Words like “stressed” or “guilt” are feelings that children have, too, so they should have access to these words.
9. Smell the Flowers, Blow Out the Candle
Breathing is essential for children who are struggling with their emotions, but some may not be able to understand what they’re trying to do.
If this is the case for your child, consider implementing the idea that they are smelling the flowers, and blowing out the candle. They can use this visualization to start practicing good breathing habits that will calm them down.
10. Wait for the Emotions to Pass
Feelings like anger and disappointment can interfere with our ability to think and learn. With that in mind, children mustn’t be forced to perform when they are dealing with big emotions.
Parents should work with their child through the emotion, and only move on to a task after the child has managed to retake control. This gives them a much better chance of starting a job on the right foot.
Big Emotions Can Be Positive
Having a child with big emotions doesn’t have to be a bad thing; in fact, these children are often much more in tune with their feelings and how to manage them!
Please encourage your children to be very comfortable with talking about their feelings, and let them know that you want to help them feel better every single time. Big emotions offer up lots of time for meaningful learning, so embrace these moments and use them as a way to practice positive emotional stability.