How to Help Children Handle BIG Emotions
Children go through different stages in their early childhood, and it may take a little while before they are able to handle, manage, and control their emotions. Helping children know and understand their own emotions is crucial in their development. When children never learn to manage their emotions, it may complicate, and affect their character as a person, and can even have a toll on their mental health.
As the child grows and explores the world, they also encounter different emotions from their daily experience. New emotions, especially the big ones, can be overwhelming for the child. Children are still learning to understand their emotions, so once in a while, they will feel an emotion that’s new to them and they can’t explain why they feel the way they do.
Children can experience big emotions and they can be overwhelming. Your child may find it difficult to articulate his/her feelings. When children experience a big emotion for the first time, they may be unsure of how to discuss or handle them. The five most common big emotions that children are adults experience are worry, anxiety, fear, frustrations, anger, and excitement.
Psychologist Dr Genevieve Nehrt further explained that you can often observe negative behaviours when the child finds big emotions too hard to handle. The overwhelming feeling from big emotions usually leads to a temper tantrum, speaking mean words, cursing, and doing impulsive acts.
Managing Big Emotions
Children may feel ashamed or embarrassed when they can’t handle their own emotions. When children get frustrated because they can’t understand and control their own emotions, it may lead to a series of negative behaviour such as being overly aggressive, unusually sad, angry, and a show of depressive signs.
It’s crucial that we teach our kids how to express their strong emotions in words. Before their emotions take control, we can offer them the means by which to communicate their feelings.
“Name it, Explain it, Contain it” is a technique developed to help children understand and handle their emotions. This method aids in the growth of children’s proper emotional awareness and coping mechanisms.
Give each emotion a proper name so the child can easily tell you what they feel the next time they feel that emotion again. When you give the emotion a name, identifying it will become easier. Naming emotions help children differentiate emotions that feel very similar!
Explaining emotions is a crucial step in understanding them. Once you’ve named an emotion, discussing it with your child is important so they will be able to understand what they feel. Books are great tools for explaining emotions. By reading with your child, you invite them to open up with you. Children’s storybooks have diverse characters that show different kinds of emotions. If you can get your child a personalised book, explaining emotions and how to handle them would be a lot easier.
A study by the National Literacy Trust found that personalised books have an empowering and long-term effect on the reader. The personalised elements in the story, such as the physical appearance of the character and the name, give the child a sense of personal relevance to the story that they are reading. When the child feels as if they are in the story through the use of a personalised book, the emotions displayed by the character will be much more relatable!
Pausing in the middle of reading helps the child develop empathy for the characters which they can apply in real life. Asking provoking questions after you tell the story also helps enhance their learning. Ask questions like: “How do you think that affected the character’s feelings?” “, “What is the character feeling like?” broadens your child’s emotional vocabulary.
When the child is able to name the emotion, and you are able to help the child understand the emotion by explaining it, containing it would be easy. “Containing” the emotion means that the child is already able to name the emotion, identify what causes it, and how react to it. An emotionally intelligent child knows how to contain his emotions.