Coping Tips For Big Emotions
Posted by Trish Grooms on 6/4/2021 4:15:00 PM
This past year, the coronavirus pandemic has had a tremendous impact on the mental health of kids of all ages, and continues to do so to this day. The good news is, that children, even young children, can learn to cope with the mental health challenges that come their way.
Here are some tips to help your child cope with those big emotions and build confidence.
- Model managing difficult feelings of your own. If your child sees you angry, scared, or nervous, bring them into the conversation. Tell them what you are feeling, why, and how are you going to handle it. This helps them learn how to do the same.
- Support and identify feelings. It is important for young children to know that big emotions are normal and can be manageable. When you see your child angry or frustrated, let them know that you “hear” them. “It looks like you are really frustrated right now. I feel that way sometimes, too.”
- Use positive attention. When your child takes an action - even a small one - to cope with a hard or big emotion, praise them right away. For example, if you see your child take a deep breath in the middle of a tantrum or breakdown, immediately say “I like that you took a deep breath! Let’s do another one together.”
- Solve problems together. Talk over what is bothering your child and brainstorm solutions, rather than telling them what you think they should do. Lead with curiosity and ask open ended questions to get them talking.
- Model positive self-talk. Try to avoid criticizing yourself in front of your child. You can even show kids how to correct critical thoughts in real time. “I called myself stupid when I forgot my wallet, but I know I am pretty smart most of the time. Forgetting something from time to time is not a big deal.”
- Praise perseverance. Praise your child for their efforts as much as their accomplishments. This helps them internalize that their work matters and that they don’t need to be perfect.
- Show the love! Let your child know that you think that they are great, whether they do great things or not. That means a lot of affection and affirmation when they win, when they lose, and even when they drive you nuts!
- Look out for signs of a bigger problem. If your child consistently has low self-esteem that does not improve over time and gets in the way of their daily life, consider getting support from a mental health professional.