Managing emotions in a social world

Managing emotions in a social world – because they rarely happen in a vacuum

From The Secure Child set of talks and materials.

You may think you are beginning to understand your child’s emotions, and outbursts. You may even be helping them to recognise and manage them for themselves. But you enter a whole new playing field when others get involved, and you need to start considering the emotions and behaviours of others.

It helps to have techniques you can fall back on, reinforcing positive outcomes every time you use them

Imagine what it would have been like if, as a child, you had learnt how to manage your emotions. If you could have calmed yourself during every moment you have felt anxious and found a sense of balance whenever feelings of sadness, stress or anger overwhelmed you.

How empowering would it have been as a teenager, to understand and manage your own emotions, and to recognise and act positively when friends were in a difficult place.

Learn to help your child through difficult emotions with consistency and confidence, using techniques they can apply for themselves

When we think of emotions, it is worth remembering that they are neither good nor bad, they just are. We all feel positive – and negative at times. However, our emotions feed off the emotions of those around us, and they drive our behaviours. Without careful management, these behaviours can become destructive or unacceptable, and it is here that you can learn to support your child.

Children feed off the emotions around them – every confrontation and embrace, and the effect begins even before you conceive them!

It is healthy – and necessary – to experience emotions, however continuously experiencing intense emotions is not good for your child or those around them. By actively choosing to have a clam response to things yourself and engaging with your child as you help them to recognise their emotions, you can lay down the brain structure that will inform your child’s behaviours.

Help your child identify, manage and control their emotions, and you can teach them how to not let their emotions control them.

As a toddler your child will experience frustrations that will engulf them. A little older and they will struggle to understand the mean things said by yesterday’s best friend. While your teenager, with the rational part of their brain still seeing everything in simple terms of right and wrong will struggle to understand your more considered “No”.

Frustration, anger and jealousy may be expressed as they scream and cry, throwing themselves on the floor, or lashing out verbally or physically as negative thoughts flood their bodies with negative chemicals.

Not only is your child coping with their own emotions, they are also responding to and feeding off the emotions of others.

So, teach them to not be afraid of the feelings that the chemicals surging through their body are having them feel. Help them to recognise and name them, and then to spot them in others. If this is too difficult with friends, start with characters in a book or a programme you share together. Consider what they are feeling, the behaviours it triggered and alternative things they could try.

This article is taken from our course: The Secure Child

Dr Kathryn Peckham is an Early Childhood Consultant, author and researcher and the founder of Nurturing Childhoods.  Providing all the knowledge, understanding and support you need to nurture your growing child.


Don’t miss:

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How to help your child establish greater emotional intelligence.