Sometimes children can become overwhelmed by powerful negative emotions which tip over into difficult behaviours. Most times when you see a difficult emotion in your child, there is an unmet need underlying it, so trying to understand that emotion will give you a clue to the behaviour you may be seeing, and that leads to the opportunity to fulfil that need.
Think of it as an iceberg, what is really going on under the surface? We call this emotional dysregulation. One of the most difficult skills for a child to learn is self-regulation. Young children’s brains are still growing and developing, so the connections between the emotional part of the brain and the thinking part of the brain are not strong, but each time you help your child by labelling their emotions and help them to try to stay calm you will strengthen these connections. You can validate how your child is feeling and empathise with them, you can try to normalise their reaction by saying things like “I can understand why you might be feeling….” This is very helpful for a child as we all like to feel that what we are experiencing is normal. However normalising the feeling does not mean we are condoning unacceptable behaviour, but leaving a child to feel bad about an emotion is also not helpful. Alongside using this Emotion Coaching, bringing in age and developmentally appropriate boundaries will help to shape a child’s behaviour in a positive and nurturing way.