5 Things Your Child Needs to Know to be Emotionally Strong

By Paul Baker Lifecoach

Posted  June 1 2017 | 0 Shares

SHARE / LIKE

Most of us won’t remember it, but being a child wasn’t always rainbows and cupcakes. In fact, there were a lot of terribly rainy days, we got scolded for things we didn’t understand, and we couldn’t bring that puppy home no matter how hard we begged (and screamed, sometimes). They don’t seem like tragedies now, but when you’re very small and not emotionally strong, every setback seemed to spell the end of the world.

As parents, we’ve come to accept that tantrums and kids go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Eventually, however, our little ones will have to learn to manage emotions — not just for our sanity as parents, but for their own good, as well. Even more important: We need to remember that emotional strength and intelligence aren’t learned on their own. We have to teach them.

Read: Dealing with tantrums

By helping our young ones identify and use appropriate emotions for appropriate situations, we are teaching them resilience whilst also building their maturity and high levels of emotional intelligence. We are all largely governed by our emotions and yet everyone deals with their emotions differently. How we recognise and understand our emotions, how we regulate them and how we express them determines how well we cope and interact with the world around us.

It is also no secret that while kids are being driven by emotions, and lots of them, they find it hard to regulate them. From crying to laughing, from sad to happy, from angry to calm, all parents have experienced these emotions with their kids and often.

While adults may identify the emotions they experience, they are also quick to identify the emotions of their children. Young children on the other hand experience difficulties in identifying and understanding their emotions and therefore get easily confused and anxious.

Furthermore, as we grow into adults we learn to regulate our emotions and use them appropriately at any given situation — that is, be emotionally strong. We don’t go screaming and yelling at our bosses because they hurt our feelings. No, we do it in the bathroom. Young children on the other hand, are still learning and their emotions and associated behaviour is often unpredictable, unsociable and sometimes downright obnoxious.

The good news is that there are effective tools available for parents to help their young children regulate their emotions. One of the most effective ways is what researchers call reappraisal of emotional events. Reappraising simply means taking a look at an event and the emotions surrounding it and then thinking about what the effects of the emotions were and how one might be able to change their responses in the future.

Reappraising an emotional event could mean anything from assessing the events importance in achieving personal objectives or assessing how the outcome of the same event could be better.

The most effective way to reappraise any emotional event is to do it while still being in that emotional state. This is called state dependent learning and has been shown to increase emotional regulation in young children. This was proven a number of years ago when researchers conducted a study with children experiencing emotions. They found that children learn best about their emotions, when they are experiencing an emotional episode.

They discovered that when children are emotional and they learn to accept and, more importantly, understand these emotions they have an entirely different experience with those emotions. (Get your Kids to watch the Pixar Movie “Inside out” – it is fabulous for helping them to identify their emotions) What this means is that a child can have the same emotional experience again and be able to identify the emotion quickly then evaluate it against what they know to be true about themselves and the outcomes they want to achieve.

The research also found that regulating emotions effectively results in better academic outcomes which is important for children’s’ development.

A reappraisal of the emotional event is an important tool to help parents teach their children to manage their emotions but what is also important to note, is that sitting with, and comforting an emotional child, as well as communicating understanding and acceptance of their emotional state is helping the child understand and appreciate their feelings.

They learn that:

  1. Although they are experiencing an awful feeling it won’t result in anything terrible happening to them or family members.
  2. Their parents understand how they feel.
  3. They can trust their own feelings and that they are valid.
  4. They are not alone in experiencing those feelings.
  5. Even though they are feeling this way, they are still accepted by their parents.

Therefore, the best times to communicate such acceptance are while the child is being naughty and misbehaving. Though it’s tempting to take the child aside, yell and discipline them, parents could run the risk of adding to their confusion and layer upon layer of guilt. This could lead to the child feeling ambushed. While they are expressing negative emotions such as anger, getting yelled at will increase their hurt and shame and further muddy the already turbulent waters of childhood emotions.

Read: How to discipline children without losing it

As a starting point its advisable to ask them how they are feeling. Asking them what is frustrating them, or making them angry. This helps narrow down the focus and identifies the correct emotion. It is also important to be patient while working together with the child to problem-solve the issue that they are faced with. As you talk through the problem with your child remind them that they are good problem solvers and that their problem-solving ideas are noble (use your judgement carefully).

Secondly, you need to allow them to feel as part of the solution, not the problem. It is important to reinforce to them that you and the child can work together as a team on the problem at hand. Its important to keep in mind that the more they are able to identify what they are feeling the easier it is for them to regulate and appraise their emotions and make the necessary changes.

In the end, it will all add up to an emotionally strong person with a high level of emotional intelligence, which is the ultimate goal every parent wants to achieve for their children. It’s worth all the effort!

Reviewed by Paul Baker Lifecoach 1 June 2017 references
  • current version

  • PEER REVIEWER

  • document id

  • next review

This document has been developed and peer reviewed by a KIDS HEALTH Advisory Board Representative and is based on expert opinion and the available published literature at the time of review. Information contained in this document is not intended to replace medical advice and any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner.

make a comment

0 comments

latest articles

view all

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED - MEET THE EXPERTS VIEW ALL

5 Things Your Child Needs to Know to be Emotionally Strong

Most of us won’t remember it, but being a child wasn’t always rainbows and cupcakes. In fact, there were a lot of terribly rainy days, we got scolded for things we didn’t understand, and we couldn’t bring that puppy home no matter how hard we begged (and screamed, sometimes). They don’t seem like tragedies now, but when you’re very small and not emotionally strong, every setback seemed to spell the end of the world.

As parents, we’ve come to accept that tantrums and kids go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Eventually, however, our little ones will have to learn to manage emotions — not just for our sanity as parents, but for their own good, as well. Even more important: We need to remember that emotional strength and intelligence aren’t learned on their own. We have to teach them.

Read: Dealing with tantrums

By helping our young ones identify and use appropriate emotions for appropriate situations, we are teaching them resilience whilst also building their maturity and high levels of emotional intelligence. We are all largely governed by our emotions and yet everyone deals with their emotions differently. How we recognise and understand our emotions, how we regulate them and how we express them determines how well we cope and interact with the world around us.

It is also no secret that while kids are being driven by emotions, and lots of them, they find it hard to regulate them. From crying to laughing, from sad to happy, from angry to calm, all parents have experienced these emotions with their kids and often.

While adults may identify the emotions they experience, they are also quick to identify the emotions of their children. Young children on the other hand experience difficulties in identifying and understanding their emotions and therefore get easily confused and anxious.

Furthermore, as we grow into adults we learn to regulate our emotions and use them appropriately at any given situation — that is, be emotionally strong. We don’t go screaming and yelling at our bosses because they hurt our feelings. No, we do it in the bathroom. Young children on the other hand, are still learning and their emotions and associated behaviour is often unpredictable, unsociable and sometimes downright obnoxious.

The good news is that there are effective tools available for parents to help their young children regulate their emotions. One of the most effective ways is what researchers call reappraisal of emotional events. Reappraising simply means taking a look at an event and the emotions surrounding it and then thinking about what the effects of the emotions were and how one might be able to change their responses in the future.

Reappraising an emotional event could mean anything from assessing the events importance in achieving personal objectives or assessing how the outcome of the same event could be better.

The most effective way to reappraise any emotional event is to do it while still being in that emotional state. This is called state dependent learning and has been shown to increase emotional regulation in young children. This was proven a number of years ago when researchers conducted a study with children experiencing emotions. They found that children learn best about their emotions, when they are experiencing an emotional episode.

They discovered that when children are emotional and they learn to accept and, more importantly, understand these emotions they have an entirely different experience with those emotions. (Get your Kids to watch the Pixar Movie “Inside out” – it is fabulous for helping them to identify their emotions) What this means is that a child can have the same emotional experience again and be able to identify the emotion quickly then evaluate it against what they know to be true about themselves and the outcomes they want to achieve.

The research also found that regulating emotions effectively results in better academic outcomes which is important for children’s’ development.

A reappraisal of the emotional event is an important tool to help parents teach their children to manage their emotions but what is also important to note, is that sitting with, and comforting an emotional child, as well as communicating understanding and acceptance of their emotional state is helping the child understand and appreciate their feelings.

They learn that:

  1. Although they are experiencing an awful feeling it won’t result in anything terrible happening to them or family members.
  2. Their parents understand how they feel.
  3. They can trust their own feelings and that they are valid.
  4. They are not alone in experiencing those feelings.
  5. Even though they are feeling this way, they are still accepted by their parents.

Therefore, the best times to communicate such acceptance are while the child is being naughty and misbehaving. Though it’s tempting to take the child aside, yell and discipline them, parents could run the risk of adding to their confusion and layer upon layer of guilt. This could lead to the child feeling ambushed. While they are expressing negative emotions such as anger, getting yelled at will increase their hurt and shame and further muddy the already turbulent waters of childhood emotions.

Read: How to discipline children without losing it

As a starting point its advisable to ask them how they are feeling. Asking them what is frustrating them, or making them angry. This helps narrow down the focus and identifies the correct emotion. It is also important to be patient while working together with the child to problem-solve the issue that they are faced with. As you talk through the problem with your child remind them that they are good problem solvers and that their problem-solving ideas are noble (use your judgement carefully).

Secondly, you need to allow them to feel as part of the solution, not the problem. It is important to reinforce to them that you and the child can work together as a team on the problem at hand. Its important to keep in mind that the more they are able to identify what they are feeling the easier it is for them to regulate and appraise their emotions and make the necessary changes.

In the end, it will all add up to an emotionally strong person with a high level of emotional intelligence, which is the ultimate goal every parent wants to achieve for their children. It’s worth all the effort!

Reviewed by Lisa Kelly 1 June 2017
references
  • current version

  • PEER REVIEWER

  • Doc id

  • next review

This document has been developed and peer reviewed by a KIDS HEALTH Advisory Board Representative and is based on expert opinion and the available published literature at the time of review. Information contained in this document is not intended to replace medical advice and any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner.

make a comment

0 comments

latest articles

view more

MEET THE EXPERTS

view more