How do I Handle my Child’s Emotions?

Your home is an internship for your children to learn to handle their emotions and themselves socially when they are challenged. To learn to communicate feelings, resolve conflict and show care in a loving relationship. Your child should not feel like they have to fight you and justify their feeling. That is a good way to send them over the edge. Then what do we do when our child is dealing with a strong emotion, either sadness, anger, frustration or fear for example? We want to help them through these emotions in a healthy way. Giving them tools to understand and deal with the emotions.

Here are some dos and don’ts for how to handle an emotional child.

Don’t demand that they be immediately rational, they are at that moment being emotional which is opposite of using our rational brain. If they are hysterical or throwing a tantrum then leave them alone for a time until they can be calm enough to talk to you.

Do show the child empathy. Talk to them about what they are feeling. Are they scared or frustrated? As they become calmer ask them to explain what upset them and listen to their story.

Don’t tell them that there is nothing to be upset about. They are upset already so there must be something upsetting them.

Do let them tell their story, help them by asking questions about what happened. This may be hard at first but when the child realizes you are there for support and that you are calm this will give them security.

Don’t do all the talking, be more of a listener.

Don’t argue and deny their emotions. Let them know it is OK to have strong emotions.

Don’t add the word “but”  Saying, “I see you’re disappointed but…” erases everything you just said.

Do reflect back what they have told you, this will validate their feelings.

After the child has calmed down and feels like you have listened to them then you can teach them an appropriate response to the frustration. Tell them what is acceptable and what isn’t. Now that they feel heard and know that you have shown care and respect for their feelings they will be more likely to listen to your guidance. This is when you parent and teach them what the boundaries are.

Written by Lisa Strong

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