Helping your child manage their emotions

The key to supporting our children isn’t necessarily avoiding the triggering situations, but giving them the tools to navigate them.

When our children are upset, angry or scared, our own emotions can be triggered. It is incredibly painful to see our child struggle. Self-regulation is the ability to manage your emotions and behaviour in accordance with the demands of the situation. It includes being able to resist highly emotional reactions and to calm yourself down when you get upset.

  1. Introduce mindfulness - Habits formed early in life will inform behaviours in adulthood, and with mindfulness, we have the opportunity to give our children the habit of being peaceful, kind, and accepting. Whether it is listening to a 5-minute guided meditation together or creating a mindfulness jar – model how you use mindfulness to help you regulate your own emotions. Mindfulness techniques are best introduced as part of your child’s regular routine and encourage them to keep it as part of their ‘toolbox’ for when they need it.
  2. Scaffold - Imagine a situation that can produce strong negative emotions, like a frustrating homework task. If we try to overly manage the situation, we risk taking over the regulation role. We need to allow our children to recognise their frustration and then decide how to manage it. In this situation, scaffolding might involve helping your child with one problem, and then expecting them to try the rest. If they feel frustrated, they might get up and get a drink. They might use a timer to give themselves periodic breaks.
  3. Reflect - When we approach impulsive, inappropriate behaviour calmly and give them time, children can learn to choose better ways to respond to that situation. The feedback they need is non-judgmental and non-emotional; what went wrong and why, and how they can fix it next time. Slowing down allows children to become more thoughtful, reflective and self-aware. We need to slow down and model self-reflection, self-awareness and self-regulation for our children.

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