With the holidays right around the corner, it is an ideal atmosphere for high energy, temper tantrums, and fights. The holidays are a time for joy and love, but there is also the biggest culprit — stress — running rampant. During the holidays, there is a lot of stress what with choosing the right gift, making the perfect Gingerbread House, or baking the best cookies. Stress can cause people — adults and kids — to say and do things that they would not normally say or do. Stress can cause them to lose their temper and throw things. That is why that it is important that we learn to regulate our emotions in a healthy way. The younger that we learn, the better.
How To Teach Your Children to Regulate Their Emotions
- Take a deep breath
- Seek a quiet place
- Talk about it
Take a deep breath
The first thing that you should teach your children to do is to take a deep breath. When they feel the tension building up , then tell them to breathe. Teach them how to breathe in and then breathe out. Tell them to do this a couple of times. Of course, this may not work for babies or toddlers, but it is a good habit to start for preschool aged kids and above.
Most of the time when kids throw a temper tantrum, it is due to a lack of control. They can’t do something, so they lash out at someone or something. Instead, they do the one thing that they do have control over: themselves. So, they get on the floor and scream. They throw things. They flair and contort and twist their bodies. They do these things as a coping mechanism. But it is not the healthiest way to cope.
So, when they feel the tension building, teach your children to breathe in and then breathe out. Teach your children to count to ten or even a hundred. They could count fish, sheep, or dogs. Or they could count the number of candy canes that on the Christmas tree. For the younger kids, count with them. Make it a game out of it. You will soon find that they will orget about the thing that caused them to become angry. You can then congratulate yourself because you just taught them the number one way to cope: distraction techniques.
Seek a quiet place
Sometimes you may find that your child needs to be removed from the place of high stimulation. When this arises, then calmly guide them to a quiet place in the house. This can be their favorite chair or their bedroom. Simply removing them from the place that caused them some upset and frustration can help to calm them down. As with adults, a change of venue works wonders in creating peace from within and redirecting the negative emotions.
Your child’s quiet place shouldn’t feel frightening. This shouldn’t be a place for punishment but instead a place for solace and comfort. They should want to be seek out this place, instead of fighting you every step of the way. So, try to make it comforting by adding their favorite pillow and blanket to their chair, or giving them a favorite stuffed toy that they can hold tightly.
How long they stay in this quiet place varies widely by their age. For the youngest kids, simply staying in a quiet place for as little as five minutes could be sufficient. For the oldest to preteens, they may need a longer time to help them. It all varies from child to child. Choose a time that seems right dependent on your child’s personality and age.
Talk about it
The last step is probably the most important. After you’ve given your child a chance to calm down, then go and talk to them about it. For the youngest of kids, ask them what they did and why they did it. Ask them how they felt. Give them suggestions on how they can handle the situation better next time. Guide them to a better way to handle these difficult situations. Tell them that it’s okay to feel this. Always validate how they are feeling. Show them love and affirmations.
For the oldest of kids, I suggest talking to them about not just why they did it or how they felt, but also asking them about alternative ways they could have handled the feelings. Some alternative ways that the could have handled the negative emotions is by picking up a new or old hobby, reading a favorite book, writing down their feelings, or punching a pillow. Be sure to validate how they are feeling while encouraging them to think critically about more effective ways that they can deal with it. Again, show them love and affirmations.
For all ages, it is important that you let your kids know that it’s not bad to feel or experience negative emotions. We are all human so we all have the capacity to experience both good and bad feelings. It is okay to feel both positive and negative emotions. But it is how we deal with them, or react to them, that is most important. We should approach them with an open mind and a willingness to change.
When your children start to feel overwhelmed by emotions and start lashing out inappropriately, then use these three techniques: take a deep breath, seek a quiet place, and talk to them. Teach them how to find inner peace by breathing and meditating. Teach them to find comfort and solace in a safe, secure corner of the house. Talk to them about why they felt that way and what they can do differently next time. Always validate their emotions. Always use affirmations to show them that they are loved.