Some parents tell their children that strong emotions such as anger, frustration, and excitement are unacceptable.
Strong emotions are OK. They are normal and all of us will feel them at some time in the day or week. Strong emotions are quite motivating and energising. Think about how much can get done when people get angry (for example, Vincent Lingiari, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela).
So, all feelings are OK, but it is what we do with our emotions that matters. It is not OK to hurt someone else’s feelings or physically hurt others when we are angry.
It is also not OK to blame someone else for how we feel, for example “you make me feel angry”. You are having the emotion and taking responsible for how you feel gives you the power to change it. Blame is a dead-end street – it stops you from feeling that you can take the initiative to make changes.
The components of emotional regulation include (for children aged over 4 years):
- Acknowledging where you are at – Feel it to heal it.
- Labelling your feelings – Name it to tame it.
- Doing something to calm down – Deep breathing, counting backwards, telling yourself to ‘calm down’, thinking happy thoughts.
- When you are calm, understanding what was going on for you.
When the child is calm and ready to talk, calmly discuss the behaviours you observed and what was said. Ask the child what might have sparked the outburst.
What was s/he feeling? Google ‘feelings chart’ and ‘anger iceberg’ for some cool visuals.
And finally, what could the child do better next time when s/he is having big feelings? All disruptions are opportunities for repair and learning.
Parenting is an opportunity to coach a child in ways that make them better humans. As parents, we also have to role model the skills we want our children to learn, so emotional regulation starts with us.
Article Written + Submitted by
Narelle Smith | Family Practitioner