At times of stress, children may struggle to manage their emotions. This can lead to anger, aggressiveness and sometimes violence. It’s important to realise that these aren’t necessarily the emotions your child is trying to show you.
Underneath it, there is hurt, fear, frustration or anxiety. Getting to the root of the emotion will help you better support your child’s wellbeing.
A child in distress will experience bodily changes. Their heart may beat faster, they may feel tension in their chest, their stomach might tighten. This is called the ‘flight or fight’ response. They will be less able to listen or take in information.
Allow your child to calm down before tackling what’s going on.
Once your child has calmed down, find a quiet space to talk.
Children don’t always know the language of their emotions, just that something doesn’t feel right. As a parent, you can help your child expand their emotional vocabulary:
Children need to understand their actions have consequences. It’s OK to feel angry – everyone does – but it’s not OK to hurt yourself or others or break things. Having clear boundaries and rules helps a child know what to expect.
Involve your child in deciding house rules and the consequences for breaking them. This helps you stay objective and defuses anger caused by unexpected consequences.
Ask your child to help with the consequences. For example:
Children love our attention and they will try to get it however they can. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to and encourage positive behaviours.
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