“My child throws himself on the floor and fights in hysteria, “” my son quickly explodes and rushes at the offender with his fists, “” my daughter is constantly offended and demands attention, ” parents complain. We all wish our children well and want them to be calm, joyful and kind. But they are angry, offended, afraid, sad… And here we are already shouting or saying through our teeth: “Shut up! Take it easy! Stop it!”
Each of us has a lot of emotions. This sea is changing, fluctuating. It is sometimes worried, sometimes calm. Our task is to learn how to sail on this sea without losing control. And not only to learn it yourself, but also to help your children not to drown in it. How do we deal with emotions, how is it dangerous, and how can we help your child cope with emotional storms?
How do we deal with emotions?
Imagine a child crying loudly and desperately. Mom didn’t buy a chocolate bar, fell, got an injection — the reason can be any. But the reaction from adults is usually predictable: stop it in any way.
It is better to “analyze the situation from the point of view of emotions”
The child is overwhelmed with fear, resentment, or anger. This is unpleasant, he doesn’t know what to do with it, and he does what he knows how — shouts. The parent does not like this reaction, and he begins to struggle with the child’s emotions.
How does it do this?
Suppresses: “Stop yelling, everyone is already looking at you!” And if you still threaten to punish, then perhaps the child will be able, to the detriment of himself, to suppress the unwanted adult emotion.
Interrupts: “Oh, look what a bird has arrived!” The child is distracted and, until he stops believing such tricks, switches from an undeveloped emotion to a bird.
Denies: “It doesn’t hurt a bit. Even babies get vaccinated, and they are not afraid.” The child feels fear, but the mother says that there is nothing to be afraid of. There is uncertainty: “There’s something wrong with me.”
Adults struggle not only with the child’s emotions, but also with their own: “I shouldn’t have been so excited, nothing happened,” “I’m quite moping around, I need to shake myself up,” “I’ll eat a chocolate bar, otherwise I’m worried about something.”
What does the struggle with emotions lead to?
Sooner or later, the adult will be able to stop shouting. The child will calm down, but what happened to anger, fear, resentment? Did they evaporate? Disappeared? Unfortunately, no.
It is vital for a child to feel the approval of significant adults. And if they feel that some actions are not being taken by them, this causes anxiety and a desire to do something about it. As a result, the child can repress the emotion, and then it begins to affect him already on a subconscious level, and as a result, everything becomes much more complicated.
Unlived to the end, “cornered” emotions tend to accumulate. They are like a dammed river. The dam stops the flow, but the water gets bigger and bigger, and at some point the dam will burst or the river will overflow its banks and flood everything around it. Outwardly calm child, one day can “move” a friend so that he will lose consciousness. Caregivers and parents, of course, will be taken aback. But if you trace the history of child-parent relations, you will most likely find out that the child was constantly forbidden, shamed, persuaded, scared, so long as he did not scream, did not throw toys, did not sulk, etc.
You can push out unpleasant emotions, but only together with the rest. Along with anger, resentment, and fear, joy, creativity, and curiosity are frozen. A person lives in a smoldering depressive state. This can continue for many years.
How can I help my child “swim out”?
To save a drowning person, you need to be able to swim yourself. To help your child make friends with his emotions, you need to learn to accept your own.
Your task as a parent is not to destroy the unwanted emotions of the child, not to make him, for example, never afraid, but to show that you are there. The child needs to know for sure that whatever he does, his mother will not stop loving him, will not leave him, will not treat him worse. It is important to make it clear that he is not alone: “It is terribly insulting when something is taken away from you.”
Help your child live out their emotions to the end. Let them be. Let him cry out, speak out, or in some other way that is acceptable to him, vent out what is depressing him.
Often parents admit: “I come home as if on a battlefield.” A significant part of the energy is spent on suppressing the child’s resistance. There is no longer any strength or desire left for the joy of communication. Discontent between parents and children accumulates and reaches its highest point by adolescence.
Meanwhile, parents who have learned to accept the whole child, notice how much their relationship has become more trusting and closer. It even happens that they do not notice any “difficult” age. The teenager feels that the family is his fortress, where he can hide from any adversity.
Emotional management can and should be taught. Learn for yourself and then you can teach it to your child. You can read books on the topic, participate in trainings, or consult a psychologist. A psychologist will reveal the nature of emotional states, teach you how to manage your own emotions, and help teach this to your child.
Here are some examples of the most common questions that our child psychologists work with in the field of emotions::
How can you help your child fully experience the emotion?
When is it not desirable to join the child’s emotions?
How can I switch my child’s activity from a smartphone to lessons without a scandal or quarrel?
What to do when a child is “hysterical”, afraid of water, or is exposed to other strong emotions?
How do you learn to live emotions, cope with stress, and listen to yourself and your child?
It is sad when joy and sincerity in a parent-child relationship are considered a luxury. But this can become the norm. Just don’t give up. And if only you had the courage to start with yourself.