How can I help my child with his/her emotions
During the year we always are waiting the moment when parents come and ask when their children will learn to write, read or count. It looks that those achievements are the ones that really prove they are learning in the kindergarten.
Even though are important for their future live, there is one more important: self-regulation.
Self-regulation is the skill or the ability to understand and manage your own behaviour. Be able to recognize what they are feeling, what they are doing with that feelings and be able to change what is not helping them.
It´s important to know we are not avoiding at all the negative emotions, they need to feel frustration, or sadness, when they feel this, they will learn how to deal with it.
Before to know how to deal with an emotion they need to be able to recognize what they are feeling, for babies is simple: “I like it” or “I don’t like it”, I like this toy, so I won´t let anybody to take it, I don’t like to be without my mum around, so I will cry.
When they get older, they get through the 5 basic emotions, that everybody can recognize: happiness, sadness, anger, fear and disgust. The movie “inside-out” is great to show these emotions to children, they can see quite easy what you are trying to explain. After these emotions and with 5-6 years old, many more emotions begin appearing, and with them the difficulty of dealing with all of them.
At the beginning they need us, they need us to name what they are feeling, they don´t need to explain why they feel that, just know what they are feeling.
Little by little they will see what behaviors are connected with those emotions, and what things in the environment make them feel an emotion.
It is important to let them know that is okay to feel in all the ways, it is okay to be sad and cry, it is okay to feel mad and push things, it is okay to feel fear and try to get behind mummy or daddy.
But after knowing what we feel, what are the behaviours are coming with the emotions, and that all those feelings are okay, what do we do?
Each child is different so they will find different ways to deal with the emotions, we need to provide tools for them to use, and try to find together what works for them.
The goal is make them be able to get out of an emotion in a healthy way, for example, if I feel sad is ok that I cry, but I can´t be 3 hours crying, because I won´t do anything else and I will feeling bad all that time (and for a child is exhausting).
Why don´t cry for 5-10 minutes and then find the way to be sad but do something else, like as child told me last week: “eat 4 ice-creams :D”, they can draw, read, listen to music, watch a movie, hug a teddy bear, etc.
And finishing already a little bit of a resume:
1. Help your child to identify what they are feeling, no need to ask why
2. Discuss with them what are the behaviors that goes with the feeling (when you are sad is normal to cry)
3. Tell them that is okay to feel that way
4. Agree what will be the next step after feeling that way or feeling that way.