We all feel overwhelmed by feelings sometimes. For some of us, who are more emotional, we experience our feelings very intensely and quickly. The rational side of our brain helps to regulate our emotions to calm down. But, in some people, especially children, it doesn’t happen fast enough and the result is tantrums, whining, defiance, impulsive behavior and/or fighting. When “dysregulation” occurs, it isn’t effective to try and reason with a child, but rather wait until the calm has settled in.
Is there a way to help calmness occur more quickly? An article from the Child Mind Institute https://childmind.org/article/how-to-help-children-calm-down/ discusses various techniques parents can use to help try and teach this skill to their children.
- Notice and label the negative feelings once they start to appear – children will learn that it is acceptable to feel angry, anxious or sad
- Ask your child to rank the intensity of the emotion on a scale of 1-10. – children will be forced to take a break and think about the emotion before it becomes intense.
- Validate your child’s emotion when it is occuring – children will see that you are listening to them and will feel understood.
- Praise any attempts by your child to calm down – children will recognize the positive attention on these behaviors.
- Provide a warning of a situation or transition that may create negative feelings – children will feel more prepared and calmer.
- Revisit situations of dysregulation – it is helpful for children to think about what happened when they had negative feelings and strategize on different ways it could have been handled.