We live in an ever-changing world filled with a lot of uncertainty. Every day we may have to adapt to change

We Live in an ever-changing world filled with a lot of uncertainty. Every day we may have to adapt to changes or challenges thrown at us. These unplanned situations evoke an emotional response. As adults, we have created coping strategies to handle these challenges in socially acceptable ways, or maybe we continue to create new strategies as we leam about the world around us and ourselves. We have found appropriate ways to regulate our emotions during times of change and we may not have even realized it.

For children, regulating their emotions may be more difficult because they are still leaming about themselves, learning about their emotions, and learning how to cope with their emotions. A common instance of this is when a child becomes uncontrollably angry and has a difficult time calming themselves down. It seems whatever we say only makes things worse. Don’t worry, there are some steps you can take to help your child feel more prepared for emotional situations and thus make these situations less intense for everyone involved.

Step 1: Teach your child about emotions.

This means not only knowing the name of each emotion but also having your child understand how their body feels and what it looks like during different emotions. For example, during times of anger, the body may feel tight, our hands form fists, our faces are in a scowl, and we feel like we want to yell at the top of our lungs. Great books for teaching children about emotions include: Ninja Life Hacks: Emotions and Feelings by Mary Nhin and Jelena Stupar; A Little Spot of Emotion by Diane Alber; and The Color Monster by Anna Llenas.

Step 2: Determine what triggers each emotion.

Work with your child and determine what is causing each emotion. What causes them to become angry? Is it when a change in plan occurs? Is it when they have to stop playing with their toys? Does sadness occur when a parent leaves for the day? It may help to work with your child to create a visual aid of these triggers. Create a poster with a column for each emotion and ask your child to draw or add pictures and/or words in each column of things that trigger each corresponding emotion.

Step 3: Create coping strategies.

Coping strategies will help your child appropriately manage whatever emotion they are feeling. A visual aid such as a “zones of regulation” chart or a “feeling thermometer” can assist a child in identifying his or her emotional state. Coping strategies can assist a child in moving from an area of sadness or anger to an area of calm or happiness. Examples of a few coping strategies are: walk away from a situation, listen to music, use a weighted blanket, play with a fidget toy or squeeze toy/stress ball, jump on a trampoline, draw/ color a picture, or employ deep breathing exercises. More ideas can be found at the Link below:

Things to keep in mind: When a child is in an extreme emotional state, they may not be able to answer you. Placing more verbal demands on them may irritate them or heighten their emotions. Sometimes, some space and access to the items that assist with regulating their emotions can be beneficial.

The therapists at Performance Pediatrics can speak with you further if you have concerns/questions regarding emotional regulation!