How To Teach Your Child Emotional Regulation Skills
Emotional regulation is defined as the way in which a person handles their emotions, specifically how one controls their emotions, their facial expressions and body language.
During early infancy, parents, caregivers and other family members provide children with most of their regulations. We do this by providing a stimulating environment and adjusting it when necessary and soothing when they are crying or fussy. Over time infants develop their own techniques on how to regulate their emotions.
Learning different coping strategies is crucial for children, teens and adults as a way of dealing with everyday life. This also goes with having a positive sense of self.
- Smiles to express pleasure
- Displays anger (approx. 4 months)
- Stranger and separation anxiety (approx. 6-7 months), separation anxiety can occur at night causing infants to wake frequently and stop crying when held.
- Infants become surprised (approx. 8-12 months)
- Heightened sense of fear (lasts until 18 months)
- Self consciousness, pride, embarrassment, shame
- Store memories of others which assist with not feeling alone
- Can express more emotions
- Can distinguish happy emotions more than negative emotions
- Nightmares begin
- Tantrums reach a high and will diminish by 3 years of age
- Children are empathetic
- Common emotions to express/feel are guilt, jealousy, pride
- Children may feel overwhelmed by conflicting emotions
By fostering young children through these influential years you are providing a level of quality that will in turn teach your child to develop a positive sense of emotional regulation and sense of self.
Emotional regulation develops over time; there are a few factors that influence this stage of development: a child’s temperament and gender, parental beliefs, knowledge, gender and socio-economic status, the interactions that occur between a parent and child as well as cultural factors such as emotion-related beliefs and values. This demonstrates how influential parents; caregivers and other family members are fostering each stage of development of children. By fostering young children through these influential years you are providing a level of quality that will in turn teach your child to develop a positive sense of emotional regulation and sense of self.
It is a challenge for parents at times to deal with their children’s emotions let alone your own emotions. It is easy to let your emotions get in the way. An important step is to recognize and learn to cope with your own emotions in order to assist your child. Some strategies would be to:
- Which emotion of your child’s do you have the most difficulty with (anger, crying, anxiety etc).
- Support each other through the challenges of your child’s emotions and praise each other.
- Problem solve how to deal with certain situations differently.
- Discuss incidents and your emotions during it.
Some parents may be afraid that their emotions will not stay in check when their child is having a melt down, therefore, it is important for parents who feel this way to find their triggers and ways to alleviate them. Some of the most common triggers are:
- Lack of sleep
- Stress at work
- Frustration with trying to reason with your child and them not listening
Children must understand that their feelings are real and acceptable. They also must learn how to deal with them in appropriate ways at home and in social settings.
Children must understand that their feelings are real and acceptable. They also must learn how to deal with them in appropriate ways at home and in social settings. In the beginning stages children require guidance and role modeling from parents as their feelings/emotions are intense and can be scary for them. Finally, it is your job as a parent, caregiver or family member to not punish, be punitive or dismiss your child’s feelings/emotions. It is your job to tell them that what they are feeling is acceptable and that you will guide them through it. Once they have a secure base (you), it is easier to work through it together.
For further information check out: Pathways to competence, Encouraging healthy social and emotional development in young children by Sarah Landy.