Whenever I ask parents what their biggest parenting struggle is, patience is always right there at the top of the list. We struggle to keep our cool in all sorts of situations – when we are rushing to get everyone out the door, when we have asked our child 272 times to do something, when they whine and whinge, when siblings squabble, and the list goes on. Often it is when our children are having the most trouble keeping their cool that we also lose ours. Which we all know is pretty unhelpful in the scheme of things, especially as our children are watching and learning from everything we do. And managing big emotions is hard when you are two or four or six or sixteen. In fact at times it can be hard, whatever age you are!
Being prepared with a strategy for helping children through those times when they are experiencing big or overwhelming emotions such as anger, frustration, jealousy or embarrassment, is one way to help both you and them to work through those emotions more effectively. It’s not about teaching our children that their emotions aren’t important or valid, or that they must be hidden or suppressed, but it is about helping them to find socially acceptable ways to express and deal with their emotions – most importantly, in ways that don’t hurt others.
I like the idea of developing a ‘Calm Down Plan’ with your child (or children) so that they have a plan to work through when they do feel upset or out of control, and think the following five steps provide a great place to start.
5 Steps to Managing Big Emotions
1. Remind myself that it is never okay to hurt others.
It is important to set clear guidelines about what is acceptable and what is not. In our house, we are not allowed to hurt or be destructive to others or their property. That includes hurting others with our words.