How to help your child tame his emotions

environment and receiving tools for regulation. So the parents have an important task: How to help their children regulate their emotions?

How to help your child tame his emotions
How to help your child tame his emotions

Children need two things to deal with their emotions. The first is time because their nervous systems are still immature. This is a purely biological condition that cannot be accelerated by any tricks. The second is supporting the environment and receiving tools for regulation. So the parents have an important task: How to help their children regulate their emotions?

Emotions and mirror neurons

How we help our children regulate emotions largely depends on what self-regulation mechanisms we parents have. If we feel that we are unable to cope with our own emotions in the relationship with the child, let's first look for support for ourselves, and only then support the child in experiencing difficult emotions.

Expecting a child to calm down when we're nervous will always fail. Emotions are contagious, especially between people who are close to each other. Mirror neurons are responsible for this, which read the emotional state of the person with whom we are in contact and adjust to their state. This is why only a calm parent is able to provide support and help a disturbed child.

How to support a child who experiences difficult emotions

  • Accepting what it is going through, that is, refraining from criticism, ridicule, deprecation or evaluation in the style of "it's not nice to be so angry". Acceptance also means refraining from action and taking on your child's emotions. Such an adult might think to himself - "I can see that you are a boy who is having a very hard time now, and I am an adult who will stand it for you."
  • Showing the child empathy, i.e. trying to understand what the child is feeling. The parent should definitely not deny the child's feelings, eg "why are these tears for, nothing big happened".
  • Naming difficult emotions - allows you to tame them and reduce tension, for example "are you afraid of tomorrow's test?"
  • Ensuring the child's safety in the event that he or she may harm himself or someone else, e.g. by stopping the hand that aims to deliver a blow.
  • Accompanying silence - I am with you.
  • Taking responsibility for your decisions, eg refusal - "I decided not to buy you this game, I can see that it is difficult for you, I understand it".
  • Respecting a child's emotions - that is, letting them experience their emotions, which gives them self-awareness.

Sentences that help support the child

  • I can see that you are angry.
  • I hear you find it hard to accept it.
  • I can hear how important this is to you.
  • I understand that you had a great desire to ...
  • The point is, you wanted it so badly, I understand.
  • I hear you disagree.

Must Read: Specific phobias “ what can help us understand them?

When a child experiences strong emotions, his behavior is dictated by the action of the lower brain structures (the so-called reptilian and mammalian brain, i.e. the ground floor of the brain). The higher parts of the brain, such as the prefrontal cortex, are then turned off. The prefrontal cortex is called the level of the brain and is responsible, among others, for the processes of emotional regulation, inhibition, socio-emotional competences, planning, anticipation, reflection and self-reflection. This part of the brain matures very slowly until around the age of 25. Thus, children do not yet have developed structures that could help them to be in balance, and also to easily return to it. This is why children experience emotions very intensely, e.g. kicking, screaming, hitting, screaming etc. What a parent can do is help the child by accompanying him, accepting what he is experiencing and showing empathy. Every parent must be aware that it is difficult for a child to control his emotions because of the immature brain structures, and not because of poor upbringing or too much indulgence of the parents.

At this point, I would like to make it clear that a child who, due to the anger he experiences, is isolated, e.g. by sending him to another room or another place of isolation in order to rethink his behavior, e.g. the so-called punitive language, it's absolutely not ready for this. First of all, he is not able to think about anything when he is very agitated, and he needs contact with the accepting adult, with his calm part of the brain. In addition, the child then receives a message informing him that the emotions he experiences are uncomfortable for us and as long as he experiences them, we do not want to have contact with him. Such a child most often needs support, acceptance, cuddling, stroking and the so-called mother's speech - yes, I know, I understand, it is difficult. Children need adults to experience emotions.

The exception is a small group of children who, when experiencing strong emotions, seek a place of seclusion for themselves and do not want to have any physical, verbal or visual contact with their parent, but this isolation is their decision.

However, it is worth remembering that saying any of the proposed sentences will not make the child calm down, relax, smile and say "thanks, mom, I'm better now". When a parent is with the child and supports him, he must take into account that it will take time to calm down and calm down his emotions. This is because a child needs a physical act, behavior, to soothe and release emotions. Emotions just have to ring out. When parents deny or underestimate what their child is going through, they undermine their confidence in their feelings. If mum says "there is nothing to be afraid of because nothing happened", then the child feeling afraid also receives a message that something is wrong with me, if mum says that there is nothing to be afraid of, and I still I'm scared. The child then loses the ability to differentiate their emotional states, what is happening to them and what they are experiencing. Then in adulthood, when asked "what do you feel?", He replies "everything is fine, okay."

It is worth remembering that crying is a natural tool of adjustment and repair. It lowers blood pressure, eliminates toxins, relaxes tense muscles, balances breathing. After all, even as adults we have such experiences that when we truly cry or even weep, then after a while we feel relaxed, some say that even cleansed. Therefore, baby crying performs an important regulatory function.