Parenting: Helping my child deal with his feelings
It's a good idea to help your child learn to manage his emotions, but remember you don't want to stop young children from having feelings all together. It's much better to help your child learn better ways of dealing with his feelings instead. Here are several things that you can try:
- Try to set a good example for your child. When you find yourself getting upset or frustrated, try saying things out loud like, "I'm sure I can get through this if I slow down and think about it." This is a great way to teach your child how to calm himself down and remain in control.
- Help your child put what she is feeling into words - teach her what to call different types of feelings.
- Talk about the way people in storybooks and pictures are feeling, and talk about what might cause those feelings.
- Explain that you understand she's upset or angry, but at the same time let your child know that some behaviours, like hurting others or constantly whining, are not acceptable.
- Take your child's feelings seriously and acknowledge how he is feeling. Never say "It's not such a big deal" or "Why are you so upset about that?" Instead, help your child understand that many people have similar feelings on occasion, and some people have them more often. Then discuss the acceptable ways to express them.
- Be a positive influence when your child does get upset - by helping to calm him and change the situation into something more positive.
- Try not to allow your child to let her feelings get out of control. It may teach her that she can get what she wants by bursting into tears or whining.
- Avoid labelling your child by his feelings, such as "He's always been an angry boy" or "She can't help it, she's shy." Too often, a child will start to believe what is being said, and live up to the label.
If your child's control of her emotions doesn't seem to be improving, you should talk to your child's doctor, or, if you are in Canada, and you wish to speak with a counsellor, call the Parent Help Line, 1-888-603-9100.