When youngsters are upset, you want them to be able to relax. This allows them to deal with the genuine issue rather than reacting on an emotional level. Here are some suggestions:
Give kids a chance to experience and name their feelings. They learn how to be open and manage their emotions.
Reassure your kids that you will always be there for them when they need help, especially if the problem is big.
Help your kids find solutions to problems by brainstorming ideas with them. When we ask open-ended questions like “What could you do?”, we get young people to think creatively and come up with strategies beyond the obvious.
Create a supportive environment by teaching kids to find compromise and help each other out. Help your children build actual skills for managing relationships.
Avoid telling your teens what they feel (“You’re just trying to get attention”) or judging their emotions (“What’s wrong with you?”). Teens need to see that we can make mistakes and still be okay.
Research shows that the most effective way to help kids develop emotional strength is by example: Kids learn best from us when we express our emotions in constructive ways. When we (appropriately) get furious, they get frightened; when we calmly talk through a problem, they learn how to do this too. If you are looking for more information on this subject, look at books by Daniel Goleman.
How can I get my kids to be less emotionally reactive?
It’s important to help kids not deal with challenges impulsively, but carefully. That means learning the difference between situations that require an impulsive response and those that call for a more thoughtful response.
Teach your children to be aware of what is happening inside their bodies when they are reacting impulsively. Ask them, “What is happening in the moment you feel like responding?” They can do some things to calm themselves down, such as deep breathing or listening to music.
Help kids take some time away from a stressful situation by encouraging them to do something they enjoy on their own for even just five minutes (and no screen time). This gives kids some space between their initial emotional response and the action they choose to take next, which allows them to make good decisions about how to handle stress. When kids learn how to delay gratification of impulses, it helps them learn patience and positive coping strategies over time.
The bottom line is that children must be taught how to manage their emotions in a healthy manner rather than being forced into uncomfortable situations that are frequently far too severe. Don’t teach your kids that expressing negative feelings makes them bad; instead, assist them in understanding what causes these sentiments and how to appropriately express them.
Remember, children are watching their parents for cues on how to feel about the world. If you’re stressed or overwhelmed, see a psychologist or a licensed social worker for assistance in regaining your emotional stability so that you can show it to your kids.