For anyone, no matter what age, managing your emotions and behaviour can be challenging. Every day demands, pressure and stress can add to negative emotions and therefore cause undesirable ways of thinking, acting and outcomes for people. Our emotions and moods can be a very powerful determining factor in producing productive or unproductive outcomes. Positive emotions and moods help us think more creatively, think more laterally and be open to new ideas. Helping your child to manage their emotions can assist them to be resilient, respond effectively in stressful situations, handle criticism from others, adapt to changing surroundings and or circumstances and a host of other things.
- Adopt a ‘reactive technique’.
Strong emotions have the ability to narrow our thinking and can be very limiting to our perception about situations. When children are angry, fearful or frustrated etc. they do not always think clearly and can later regret how they responded in a situation.
Whenever possible teach your child to put time between a stressful event before responding. During this ‘down-time’ talk about what caused the event, how it made them feel, what the desired outcome would be, things that could have been done differently and positive steps to take to achieve the desired outcome.
- Highlight the positive.
By talking to your child and highlighting the positive events that occur in their lives or talking about interesting people, places and events can really have a positive effect on their demeanour and how they view life. In doing so, this in turn will have a positive ‘domino effect’ on their circle of friends and create a culture, focusing on thankfulness and the bigger picture in their lives, rather than a self-focused narrow view.
- Learn from mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes and what we teach our children about mistakes can have a huge impact on how they view success and failure as adults. Mistakes are just opportunities to learn and improve, nothing more, nothing less. They should never be viewed as good or bad or connected to someone’s self-worth. Mistakes should also be talked about in a positive light as this will also assist in broadening insights into learning.
- Respond effectively to criticism
When we are criticised sometimes we can adopt a ‘defensive’ response- sometimes even unconsciously. Asking further questions when criticized can start helpful conversations, which will further help to understand what is being said, thus steering the situation away from an unpleasant outcome, rather than just responding with a flight or fight response. In addition, as we know, not all criticism is constructive, so a key to growth is to separate the useful feedback from trusted people in our lives from untrustworthy sources.
- Eat well, sleep and exercise
Much research has proven that eating and sleeping well, then adding to this mix a good dose of exercise, is a proactive technique that can really enhance positive emotions and moods. Studies have shown that when we don’t get enough sleep, negative moods such as anger, frustration etc. increase. In addition, lack of good nutrition and no physical activity can have detrimental effects on mental health and therefore the benefits should never under-estimated.
Helping your child to manage their emotions starts with support, encouragement and giving them manageable ways to understand what they are feeling. Emotions should not ever be viewed as bad, therefore by paying attention and acknowledging their emotions and moods, we can help them understand and accept what they are feeling and giving them strategies to positively enhance them.