Emotions are quite complex, even for grown-ups. Now try being a small person with all of these emotions inside and it’s no wonder children have meltdowns. Teach your kids how to deal with their feelings that they experience every day.
Make an Emotions Book
A younger child goes through a roller coaster of emotions each day. Make an emotions book together so she can better comprehend what she’s feeling and label those emotions with a word.
All you need are some old magazines and a blank notebook. Take the magazines and flip through them with your child. When you find a person, whether happy, sad or mad, talk about the emotions that person seems to be experiencing and, if sad, what might make them feel better. Then cut out that picture and let your child glue it in the emotions book. Refer to the book often and keep filling the book so your child can better understand the many emotions a person experiences.
Find What Calms Your Child
We often try to talk to our children while they’re in meltdown mode. You can’t have a conversation until you have calmness.
Find what calms your child and stick to it. It may be sitting in her room, being held or counting to 10. This calming period focuses her on settling down, which will distract her from that heightened sense of emotion. Once she begins to regain her composure, talk to her about the emotion she just experienced and what she can do next time to share her feelings in a different way.
Encourage Your Child to Use Words
Even adults have a hard time expressing how they feel sometimes. When emotions get out of control in children, it often results in full-blown screaming and crying.
Encourage her to use words to label her feelings. In the beginning, you will have to throw her some rope to help her along.
For instance, don’t just ask her what’s wrong and expect a well-thought out response.
She may be completely confused by her own feelings. Guide her with explanations like, “You dropped your ice cream. That made you sad.”
Help Your Child Find a Solution
Feelings don’t always have a quick fix. But when it comes to children, many times they do.
As you talk to your child about the emotions she’s experiencing, provide her with a solution when possible. “You’re mad your new book got ripped. Let’s tape the page and then we can read it together.”
Identify the Triggers
Be a prepared parent. Identify those automatic triggers you know are going to set off your child.
Write a list of everything that instantly sends her from 0 to 100 on the emotional scale. It might be loud noises, a sibling taking toys, a routine that gets out of whack, family overscheduling, etc.
Preparation and patience are key. The more prepared you are, the better you can help your child deal with the feelings you undoubtedly know she will experience when you run into one of her emotional triggers. The more patient you are through her range of emotions, the more you’ll be the perfect example of how she can handle any situation.