A five-year-old terror-stricken of the dark, a twelve-year-old too sheepish and embarrassed to speak up, a sixteen-year-old scared to go to school, a high school senior distressed about college admission – children are fraught with emotions.
Childhood isn’t a bed of roses. Never have been. Children go through so much every single day, including peer pressure, bullying, negative thoughts about themselves, fights between friends, exam pressure, and so on. These feelings pose serious challenges for children who have not yet learned how to manage them. According to Lisa Firestone and other psychologists, the ability of a child to deal with the ups and downs of life plays an important role in their social and academic access.
When parents teach children social skills, they typically focus on skills like, initiating conversation, making friends, sharing food or playing with others. Although these skills are important and help children when they start going to a CBSE-board English medium school, emotion management is an often neglected skill. However, parents are not to be blamed for neglecting this because most adults are unaware of the basics of emotional intelligence. Instead, many adults have inherited a legacy of coping strategies that are unhealthy like, avoidance, suppression or yelling. Also, children are at the risk of imbibing such unhealthy emotional patterns.
Is your child capable of managing his/her emotions? If not, your child might be excluded from group activities or avoided by peers. Your child might also have major adjustment issues if being sent to a residential school. To prevent that, follow these steps and help your child effectively manage his/her emotions.
Identify the feelings that your child is going through and try labeling them
Identifying feelings is the first step to managing your child’s emotions. If your child is not aware of the emotions that he/she is experiencing, it will be difficult to teach your child how to manage it.
A few ways by which you can teach your child to identify and label feelings:
- You can watch a movie, cartoon or a TV show with your child and talk about the emotions that the character/characters are having
- You can also talk about your feelings. For instance, “Today I felt angry at work when my team leader said he didn’t have time to talk to me.”
- You can label emotions on behalf of your child and let him/her know. For example, “I noticed that you were smiling today when you came home from school and told me that you sat next to Jenny. It looked like you were feeling very happy.
”So, help your child label the different emotions, such as happy, sad, anger, disappointment, anxiousness, frustration and so on. Give examples for better understanding.
Teach your child relaxation techniques
After you have successfully taught your child to identify emotions, the second step is to teach relaxation techniques which will be helpful in dealing with myriad feelings, from anxiety to anger and depression.
There are a number of techniques that you can use, but the effectiveness will depend on the characteristics of your child. Some of those techniques are:
- Yoga and meditation
- Taking deep breaths or counting to 10
- Learning to make use of mental guided imagery
Use calming activities or devices to help with sensory issues
The third step is to use some kind of calming activity or device that might help with your child’s sensory issues. Some children enjoy having a small item that they can manipulate in their hands like, a fidget or a stress ball. Others may benefit from listening to soothing music.
When you come up with an activity or device, think of your child’s preference.
Consider environmental issues like, tension in the family and try changing those situations
Thinkabout the atmosphere and environmental issues that might be leading to the emotional distress of your child. See if you can alter them. Some of the issues might be:
- Your child is not getting enough sleep and being extremely grouchy the next day. Also, he/she is easily angered. For this, you might have to limit screen time or implement some technique to help your child sleep at night. Regular exercising and healthy eating can also make your child fall asleep faster.
- If crowded and noisy situations cause anxiety, make use of noise-canceling headphones.
- If your child is being bullied at school and you come to know of it, report to the authorities. If they don’t take any steps, consider admitting your child to a different CBSE school, preferably one that has day boarding facility so that your child is saved from bringing homework home.
Give your child emotional support and make him/her feel that anything can be shared with you
The fifth step is probably the most important. Being a parent doesn’t mean that you only have to concentrate on correcting your child’s behavior. This usually never ends well. You need to provide your child emotional support and be a friend to whom they can confide anything. You should not always try to force things out of them, but give them time and create a high level of trust. Make them feel safe and give him the confidence that you’re available to listen. There are times when children simply want to bare their heart, but not ready for admonitions. You need to make your child feel confident that they can solve their own problems.
Of course, you might not immediately achieve success. But, with time, your child will learn to manage his/her feelings if you use the above-mentioned steps.