Emotional Regulation in Children
Emotional Regulation in Children
Emotional Regulation in children is the child’s ability to effectively manage and respond to big emotions. Emotional regulation in children is a key aspect of mental development as it helps them manage their emotional states and also avoid meltdowns and tantrums. Having an emotionally regulated child will do wonders in the long run as this child will almost always understand how to effectively manage difficult situations and emotions. Emotional regulation goes beyond just behaving appropriately and actually equips your child with tools to manage themselves during stressful times.
How can it help?
Helping your child be emotionally regulated will ease them into understanding the changes that take place when they are in a stressful environment. It will also help them in managing the big emotions that usually can be very challenging. It makes a child understand that they can control their emotions rather than their emotions controlling them. Teaching emotional regulation to children includes regulating reactions to strong emotions like frustration, excitement, anger, and embarrassment, calming down after something exciting or upsetting, focusing on a task, refocusing attention on another task, impulse control, and behaving in ways that help to get along with other people. It is also effective in self-regulating when overwhelmed by things and situations that are out of their control. It will help them through life.
Tips for parents
Understanding the two brains
It can help if you understand why we react the way we do. We know our brain is divided into two parts, i.e. Right hemisphere and the Left hemisphere. The right side of the brain controls emotions, language, creativity, and expression. The left side of the brain controls rational thinking, logic, etc. When your child throws a tantrum they are using their right brain. They are overwhelmed by the emotion they are feeling. At a time like this, we usually try to calm down the child by using logical statements like, ‘Stop crying’. We are using our left brain to connect with a child who is right-brained at that moment. That usually does not work. To really connect with the child, try to connect with their right brain by addressing their emotions first and then using logic.
Connect before correcting
Make sure you connect with your child and acknowledge their feelings before you point out their mistake or try to correct them. When a child is upset, logic often won’t work until we have responded to the right brain’s emotional needs. Making a connection at that moment will calm down your child and make them feel heard. It will also make the child feel emotionally secure.
Validate their feelings, Label their emotions
When your child is in distress, let them know that you see them and you empathize with them. Validating their feelings will help them accept their emotions and feelings. A child needs help with accepting that all feelings are normal. Usually, children feel that negative emotions are bad because of how adults react to them. It is needed to normalize feeling sad, angry, or frustrated.
Similarly, help them label their emotions. Labeling and identifying emotions will help them gain insight into their moods and thoughts throughout the day,
Respond instead of reacting
As adults, we tend to react instead of respond. Reacting is usually impulsive and not much thought is given to the outcome. Responding is using emotional intelligence to understand the implications of the situation. As a parent, it is important to respond to a child’s emotions and thinking before just snapping at them or saying something that is unintentionally mean. Responding to your child will make you more emotionally reachable and make them feel secure.
Let them solve their problems
It is not easy to stand back and let your children make mistakes but it is important to et them learn. It does not mean you let them make mistakes but you give them the opportunities to learn by themselves. By allowing your children to solve their problems, you are actually enabling their emotional intelligence. You are widening the window for their emotional growth.
Prepare in advance
Once you identify what triggers your child, it is easy to equip them with the right way to manage the emotions. Preparing your child for what is coming and talking to them about strategies to use when things get overwhelming. This will also help your child self-talk through problems and manage emotions in the future.
Emotional regulation is a wonderful tool to help yourself and your child when it comes to tackling mood swings and tantrums. Additionally, it will help your child’s emotional intelligence as well. Emotional regulation is not just about socially appropriate behavior. It is about identifying the triggers that overwhelm us and learning to manage these emotions in a healthy manner. Therefore, teaching your child to self-regulate will help them life-long. Lastly, let us not forget that a high IQ will help your child in academics but a higher EQ will help them in life. So what do you think you should be focusing on?