Do you have a child that is overemotional? For instance, they can cry for long periods of time after viewing or hearing something sad. Are their emotional reactions excessive in comparison to the situation at hand? Are their responses usually over-the-top? Overemotional children are usually not only sensitive about their own feelings, but those of others as well.
Over-emotional kids also tend to show emotions in a more dramatic way. How do parents help their children? What can they do to teach them how to handle their emotions in a healthy way? Here are some handy tips that may help you and your child cope with their emotions.
10 Early Detection
The best first step to any kind of treatment is early detection. Early detection makes it easier to gauge how severe a situation is and opens the door for intervention. Pay attention for signs that indicate an emotional outburst.
These can include irritability, fussiness and the inability to stay still. Bring the behavior to your child’s attention. Often, when they are made aware of exactly what they're doing, they will attempt to stop it on their own. Remember, just because you make them aware of the behavior, doesn’t mean you have to cater to it. Doing so will often make things worse.
9 Recognize The Triggers
For every action, there is a reaction. Talk to your child once they’ve collected themselves together to find out what led to the feelings to start with. Let them put into words what they were experiencing right in the moment before.
By putting these things into words, your child may be able to recognize what they should see as signals. In doing so, they may be able to regulate their emotions and prevent extreme episodes of sadness, anger or frustration. The key is to allow them to verbalize it the best way that they know how.
There are times when parents can make a child feel as if what they are feeling doesn’t matter or isn’t important enough. Even if it isn’t the intention, it's not the message that you want to send to a child. For example, if a child is upset, something happened to make them feel that way.
Avoid saying things that invalidate how they feel, like “get over it” or “it's not that serious.” Although they may be taking your opinion on board, never take away their right to feel the way they do. Respect their feelings, even if you don’t agree with them.
7 Teach Coping Techniques
Feeling strong emotions doesn’t give a child the right to allow their emotions to dictate their behavior. Children need to learn coping skills that aid in them remaining in control. Teach children positive ways to handle negative feelings. Some techniques include breathing exercises, or a distracting game like I-Spy.
One great idea is to find out what helps calm your child down. Put together their own personal “Happy Helper,” a personalized box of things that they like to do that can help soothe them through the moment. It's also helpful to talk to your child to get ideas from them on what they think may help them. This alone can do a lot of good for them.
6 Do Not Condone The Behavior
The response you have when your child is being over-emotional will have a profound impact. Without knowing, parents have a way of condoning their children’s behaviors. There are a few things that shouldn’t be done when the goal is to teach a child how to manage their emotions.
It's often argued that there should be no prize for calming down. Children can be tricky and may begin to use this as a means of getting what they want. Next, don’t allow their outbursts to be used as a way to get our attention and affection. Remember that, in the end, there is a lesson that is being taught.
5 Use Creative Outlets
Sit with your child and try to discover creative ways to deal with overwhelming emotions and feelings. These creative outlets can be used as a way to decrease the severity of an emotional outburst.
Make a habit of having your child write, draw or use other forms of art to communicate and relate to the emotions that they are experiencing. One thing to remember is not to be critical of their work. Instead, try to understand it. It's their way of expressing their feelings. When it isn’t clear what they are trying to say, ask them to explain it to you.
4 Write It Down
Keeping track of your child’s emotional moments can be very important in finding effective ways to manage them. Carry a small notebook so that you can log instances as they happen. What were you doing? Where were you? What was taking place that caused the moment? Doing this can help you recognize and avoid similar situations.
If there comes a time that you cannot avoid being in a potentially triggering environment, try to be as prepared as you can ahead of time. However, it's best to have a back-up plan... and a back-up plan for the back-up plan. Part of the reason you are taking this step is to be ahead of the game.
3 Distractions And Diversions
For some overemotional kids, distractions and diversions work to refocus their attention onto something other than what they are feeling at the moment. Maybe you’ve noticed that your child is easily distracted by a specific toy or song. Think of something they like that you can use to change their course.
This may not always be easy to do away from home. You may need to find another way to distract them outside. Whatever it is that you choose, be sure that it cannot be misconstrued as a treat or reward. You don’t want to send the wrong message.
2 Occasionally, It's Okay
Having your child regulate their emotions all the time is almost setting them up for failure. It's impossible to go through life not having an outburst at one point or another. In fact, it would be unhealthy. Allow your child to have their moment, from time to time. It can be relieving to them.
Teaching them to manage and regulate their emotions doesn’t mean that you don’t want them to feel at all. Some children may not understand that. Once they’ve had their time, talk to them about how they feel. Assure them that everything is okay and move on.
1 Know When To Get Help
There are times when children that usually don’t suffer from these sorts of issues will become extremely emotional. It's imperative that parents know when to seek professional help for their children. This is even more important for younger children and those that have difficulty verbalizing how they feel.
More often than not, for smaller children and children that cannot communicate, there is a medical reason for their behavior. If there is no medical basis for the behavior, parents need to begin to take steps toward teaching children how to regulate their emotions, so the problem doesn’t persist and follow them into adulthood.