by Jay Anderson
Emotions can be tricky…….sometimes even adults can’t manage their emotions!! Upset, angry, Annoyed, happy, hurt, frustrated, sad, nervous, scared, excited…….so many different feelings. So many situations, and as humans – we all respond differently.
Children gain comfort and security from a range of things in their life. I consider that it relates to a positive relationship with their parents and a consistent routine. When parents are able to understand their child and their emotions, then the child is better able to be free to share their emotions. How families, children and their parents experience emotions is also impacted by their culture. Some children feel like they can’t share their feelings. Some children feel comfortable sharing their feelings with one parent. We then find that many children’s feelings are exhibited in their behaviour.
As a Child and Family Counsellor, I work with children every day. Some children attend counselling because both of their parents are concerned about something. Many children attend because one parent is more concerned about the child’s emotions. Too often the parents are in conflict, not talking, or saying awful things about the other parent. Children often feel stuck in the middle – unable to say how they feel or made to agree with one parent’s feelings about the other parent. Children who have experienced their parents separate are often the majority of my clients. For many children, it can be a really challenging situation!
I often see mums seeking support – having difficulties with her boy who is angry, not listening and with “difficult behaviour”. She says that his dad reports no problems at home with him……and yet with her, there are tantrums and regular emotional outbursts. In my experience, I have found that children are often more comfortable in “letting their feelings out” with their mum. It is common, even in families where both parents are together, that children are more likely to be more comfortable sharing their feelings with one parent, rather than with both parents. For example, some children share their emotions with their mum more than with their dad.
We have all seen children lose control of their emotions. Often it is when they can’t have what they want, or a parent says “no”. This can be a challenge at a number of stages in a child’s life. Usually for “toddlers” and also for “teenagers”. It’s important to help children learn that they can control their emotions and different ways to do this. Sometimes children need a calm and caring adult to help them with their emotions….
Another example may involve a situation where a parent is forcing a child to visit or spend time with the other parent. The child may have particular fears or worries about something, and this is being ignored. A child may not have a close relationship with one parent. However, they are made to spend more time with one parent, because that parent seeks to meet their own needs, and not consider the best interests of the child……It is really important that parents listen to children express their feelings. If children are distressed, adults need to allow them space. The adults should be focussed on improving the relationship – rather than forcing a child into a situation that they do not wish to be a part of.
Here are a few tips and strategies to help your child better manage their emotions —-and that will also improve your relationship with your child ……
- Remember that your child learns emotion management from you too…..
- Listen carefully. Acknowledge your child’s feelings.
- Be a good “emotions” role model – Share your thoughts and feelings in a general way – so children can understand that adults experience emotions too – it will then help them understand their own.
- DO keep communication respectful with your partner or ex-partner.
- Before you discipline your child – consider the emotions involved and reflect that back to your child – eg I can see you are upset right now, or it looks like you are frustrated. This can help your child recognise their own emotions. It also helps your child to see you understand.
- Engaging a child counsellor – allowing your child independent emotional support can be most beneficial in many situations.
- Spend some time reflecting on the day – allow space to discuss feelings.
So many situations, so many feelings. I hope that this information has been helpful and I can be contacted for more information on email@example.com
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