Overwhelmed with Emotion
Tantrums for children are often seen as a negative ‘thing’ by many and are made to leave parents feeling overwhelmed, embarrassed, frustrated and angry themselves. Although tantrums and meltdowns themselves are not very pleasant to deal with, they are a normal part of child development and quite common in young children. These ‘tantrums/meltdowns’ are learning experiences for children, how they deal with it, how they learn about their emotions, how you respond and how they manage next time.
When parents understand the reasons behind a tantrum then they can be in a better position to help guide their child to gain control of their emotions. This may involve the parent taking some time to breath, move away from the environment to regroup and calm their own emotions before supporting their child. When you are feeling calm (we know this is hard sometimes) it can help the situation and may even cut the time down it takes to settle and calm your child.
For children triggers of big emotions can come from feelings of disappointment, frustration, anger, tiredness, and loss of control, children are still developing ways to express these feelings and understanding what emotions are and how to express them appropriately.
Self-regulation is a skill that you learn in childhood. What is Self-regulation you ask? It is the ability to understand and manage your emotions and reactions (behaviours) to your feelings and things that happen around you. To self-regulate you will be able to:
- Regulate your emotions even the strong ones like anger and frustration.
- Calm yourself down after extreme excitement or being overwhelmed and upset.
- You can refocus on a task or be able to concentrate on a new task.
- Control your impulses and behaviour in an appropriate manner.
- Be able to express how your feeling verbally (for those children who are able to communicate).
Parents can use different strategies to support their children to understand emotions and learn to express them through:
- Compassion and comfort to feel safe, supported and know their feelings
- Role modelling of how to deal with the emotions they are feeling.
- Labelling of emotions so children begin to understand what they are feeling
for example “Timmy I can see you are feeling frustrated” this helps the child
make that connection and be able to put a name to how they are feeling.
- Breathing exercises or tools that teach children about self-regulation.
Remembering that these outbursts are normal, while at times challenging you are helping your child gain control of their emotional well-being and providing them with tools to express their feelings and emotions in healthy safe environments.
Author - Cassy