Trying to fix what’s upsetting your child sends the wrong message.
It says, we, the adults, the most power people in your world, have to fix you, because you can’t fix yourself.
Kids need to learn how to “fix” themselves, and it’s our job to teach them how, not do it for them.
Here are four steps to help you teach your child how to manage the “big” feelings.
1. Always begin by acknowledging feelings, giving the feeling a name. If appropriate, make it clear what the rules are when you feel such “big” emotions. “I see how mad you are. It’s okay to feel mad, it’s not okay to spread your mad feelings to other people or hurt them” or “Sounds like you’re really sad, that’s okay, I would be sad too.”
2. Show your child how to survive the feelings they’re expereincing by doing some deep breathing. “I know you’re upset, please take a big breath and then pretend to blow out some birthday candles. Do this 5 times, then we’ll talk.” For older kids ask them to take 10 deep belly breaths. This teaches them basic deep breathing. The taking in and releasing of the breath calms the mind and the body.
3. Intense, all consuming feelings don’t magically dissipate, it takes a few minutes. Show your child how to manage the feelings as she’s calming down by having her slowly count to ten.
4. Finally, show your child how to shake it off; how to release the feelings from his body. Have him run back and forth in the yard 5 times, or play basketball, or punch a pillow.
This sequence helps your child learn how to manage the “big” feelings they’ll be dealing with in life, just like we all have to do. Just thought you’d want to know.