5 Critical Steps to Help Children Learn How to Regulate Their Emotions

April 4, 2018

Emotional regulation is not something we are born with; it is something we learn as we grow.  Children especially have a problem learning this skill because their emotions tend to swing like a pendulum.  Helping your kids learn how to regulate their emotions at all times is such an important task in raising children.

To help the children regulate their emotions, you need to monitor, recognize and adapt the emotions to the present situation.  Regulating emotions is very different for every age group. Helping each of your children develop these vital skills of maintaining a balanced emotional life is a call to every parent to fulfil.

What does self-regulation involve?

Self-regulation is the ability to manage emotions and the behaviour involved according to the demands of the situation.  It involves:

  • The ability to resist highly emotional reactions that are upsetting
  • Calming yourself down when you get upset
  • Adjusting to a change in expectations
  • Handling frustrations without any outbursts

This is a skill that if well taught can help children straighten up their behaviour as early in life as possible.

Why do some children struggle with self-regulation?

Emotional issues are a mixture of temperament and behaviour.  Every child’s capacity to self-regulate emotions is a deep combination of personality and temperament.  The environmentof a child also plays a big role in this.  If, for example, the parents give in to tantrums and are easily bought by the children acting out, then the kids will have a hard time developing self-discipline.  Emotional regulation in children will only work properly if you stand up firm as a parent and face the situation with boldness.

Children should be taught to soothe themselves without the parent. If this does not happen, then the child is left looking to outsource self-regulation, which will not work properly. Children with ADHD will find it difficult as well as challenging to manage their emotions and will require more assistance to develop emotional regulation skills.

Steps to help a child overcome their emotional outbursts

  • Model healthy emotional self – Do not buy into little tantrums like yelling. Be a good example to your children. Whatever they see you do, they will also do, so quit yelling at others and stop yourself when angry.
  • Create a deep nurturing connection – Reconnecting with your children builds a firm assurance that you are there for them. When children feel loved and appreciated by their parents,then they cooperate.
  • Accept your child’s feelings – Be genuinely empathetic with your children. Accept their feelings even when they are inconvenient.  This makes them accept their feelings even when they are bad.  Your support should be to show them they can get past the ugly feelings.
  • Help your child feel safe enough to feel their emotions even though the actions are limited – Stay compassionate with your children and don’t get tired of teaching them the right thing. Let them know that no matter how mad they are, they cannot hit others.  Let them know it is okay to cry so that the bad feelings go away.
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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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