Patience is no doubt the leading parenting struggle which starts from the time our little ones are born. It is very common for parents to dedicate large chunk of their concentration and attention on little babies. From managing their tantrums of anger to eating fussiness, from crying on the top of their lungs to throwing away toys in frustration, parents are always on their toes to observe these behavior and work out different theories in this respect. Managing big emotions in school-going children is even more difficult.
As children grow up to school going age, they need more cues on managing their emotions and often lose control over their reactions. Anger, Fear, Sadness, and Jealousy are some of the main emotions that kids find it difficult to express. Sadly, that is often the exact time when parents lose their patience as well and do not put enough time and effort in helping children with this difficult period. Showing and managing emotions is a major part of developing social skills where kids can learn to display emotions in a socially acceptable way.
Managing Emotions in School Going Children
Several studies indicate that during middle-school age, children’s brain starts to get powered up with billions of new neurons. This comes with new friendships, self-awareness, self-consciousness, ego, milestones and many other obstacles of life. This often leads to emotional outbursts by children that are not socially acceptable and affect children’s ability to deal with different phases in their life later on. As children grow, managing their emotions becomes even more difficult.
Parents need to be there for their child to help them manage, and validate these emotions instead of telling them to hide or suppress them or yell at them for behaving badly. It is observable that children as young as 1 year old always run towards their parents for support when they have to cry or are happy which indicates their comfort zone. Therefore, psychologists agree upon 4 main emotions that parents should manage in their children during primary years: Sadness, Anger, Jealousy, and Fear.
Sadness in children comes from various sources. It can be felt due to disappointment over something, seeing disagreements or fights between parents, fight with friend or sibling, feeling of losing something, constant fear of something which is disturbing the child or any other factor. In order to identify this emotion, it is important to understand how children express sadness. Mostly, they do it through face expression, tears, anger, emotional outbursts, quietness, isolation or being overly clingy.
It is important to make them explain their issues instead of appeasing them from young age. Use examples from your own childhood to make him relate and understand that it is normal to feel sad over such things. Make sure use emoji cards or apps to make your child familiar with emotional faces so that they can be able to identify their own emotions later on.
Anger is one of the strongest feeling that a child can have. Anger can be a result of frustration, fights, disagreements, embarrassment, constant sadness or response to some hostile attitude. Since children do not know how to regulate their feelings, they can show anger by hitting someone, throwing things, shouting and yelling, crying or making angry faces. Do not enforce your opinion on them by asking them why they are mad, instead use terms like ‘It looks like’ or ‘I feel’ to allow them to correct you if they are just sad and not angry.
Make sure they build up the habit of expressing anger in proper words from young age. For instance, teach them to say clear words like ‘I don’t like when you take toys from me’ or ‘I don’t like when you make fun of me so stop’. Allowing them to use verbal communication to expressing themselves can prevent physical harm in future.
Fear is another major emotion that has to be given due significance otherwise it leads to personality destruction. Some natural fears like from darkness, horror movie character, horror story, real life incident or strangers are common. However, fear of any kind should not be talked down by parents as it affects the confidence of child in parents and themselves. Giving children the confidence to share their fears with you while relating to that fear or giving it validation can ease the process of giving confidence and strength to your child.
Though jealousy sounds like far stretched concept for innocent children, psychologists argue that emotions of jealousy begin to develop among children from as early as few months of age when kids start interacting with family members. It is a common sight to observe jealousy in babies when mothers hold other babies or parents and siblings are not paying attention. However, as kids grow up, jealousy or envy takes serious form resulting in habits of stealing or bullying. In schools, kids often get jealous by variety of cool things that other kids have or by things that kids brag about in school.
It is important to understand that it is natural to have desire for more even for kids. Acknowledging this fact, the stress should be on highlighting things, events, and people that makes your child happy and that can replace yearning for things. Like other emotions, feeling of envy or jealousy should not go undervalued by telling them to not do it right away and needs to be acknowledged to allow children to express themselves in future.
Tips to Manage Big Emotions in Children
Following tips can be used for managing big emotions in children:
- Tell your child it is normal to have these emotions and the best way to deal with any emotion is to talk about it. Card games like emotion faces on placards or egg shells, educational videos, mood meter, using feeling words are some of the engaging ways to teach children about emotions and how to express them.
- Teach them meditation from start like whenever there is a rush of anger, tell them to immediately count to 10 but take 5 deep breaths. You can also remind them to do this meditation when they forget and show emotional breakdown instead of reacting negatively.
- During the storybook reading or watching movies, take time to pause and ask the child about emotions of characters. This can help in building up their emotional vocabulary which will later aid in expressing themselves in socially acceptable way.
- Teach them about impermissible ways to show anger, jealousy or frustration like hitting someone unless attacked, throwing things and verbal abuse.
Some other significant emotions that you can learn about and work out with your child include emotions of excitement, disgust, surprise, worry, nervousness, boredom etc.