Little People - Big Feelings
Kids may be small, but they sure feel things in a big way! Whether your child is mild-mannered or outspoken, they experience the same range of emotions that we as adults do. The trouble is, they may lack the tools to express, process, understand and manage those emotions. It can be incredibly frustrating to attempt to help a child who is having a meltdown for reasons unknown; so just imagine how frustrating it must be for them to be experiencing it, and not able to make sense of or manage their own feelings!
According to Hannah Meinke* kids just start learning to manage their emotions in the preschool years.
As caregivers, it’s our responsibility to help our children learn to express themselves, and not to stifle their feelings or feel fear or shame for their feelings. So we need to make sure they know it’s ok to feel and express all the different emotions and that they are in a safe place, while also helping them learn to manage those emotions.
A couple strategies:
Get down to their level (physically: squat, sit, lay down with them) & just be present - give them space to express themselves before trying to ‘fix’ the situation.
Model the behaviours you want them to learn. Stay calm. Use language to name & describe the feelings.
In the words of Daniel Tiger: when you feel so mad, that you want to roar, take a deep breath, and count to four. (This is good advice for adults and kids alike!)
Practice through play! Kids can learn things much more easily when things are disguised as play. So create a scenario or set up a scene that requires them to pretend an emotion and respond.