Emotions are crazy things. They can jump from happy to sad to anything in between in the blink of an eye. They are also a huge part of who we are. While it may be tricky, even as adults, teaching our kids how to manage and monitor them is such an important life skill.
It can help self-awareness and show them that thoughts, feelings, and behaviour are all connected. If they know how they feel, they can pick up on how others feel which then builds empathy. Wheel of Emotions found under the Identifying Emotions activity in the ParentalEQ BackPack App is a great place to start. It can help start the process of children learning how to label emotions and pick up on what can trigger them.
Questions you can teach your kids to ask themselves to help regulate their emotions:
- How am I feeling?
- What happened to make me feel like this?
- Which words best describes how I feel?
- How can I express my emotions properly?
- How can I accept and grow from them?
Simple questions that can go a long way in helping to open the lines of communication.
We as parents need to remember that small things can trigger large emotional responses. Public speaking triggers nervousness and fear in my daughter as well as pride when she gets it done. Heights trigger a mixture of excitement and fear in my son, not that stops him from free jumping off the couch. For myself, the smell of herbs triggers memories of my Grandad who passed in September last year. The smell triggers both happy and sad responses. Although they may be little in body, they are filled with so much emotion that sometimes it can be overwhelming and hard to regulate or understand.
We need to remember that, even if they make us feel uncomfortable, emotions all serve a purpose, and they can be turned into something a lot bigger.
Guilt 🡪 can be turned to stopping a child from doing the wrong thing. I got caught stealing an easter egg off my teachers desk in year 2. I felt so guilty I confessed, my mother made me take it back and explain and I never touched anything off the teachers desk again.
Frustration 🡪 productivity in school and homework or even cleaning their room. My friend’s daughter used to get so mad that she would just scribble a big mess. Now she channels it through finishing schoolwork and reading.
Anger 🡪 resilience and a thicker skin when facing tough decisions and situations. My daughter (like most kids) would get mad when she was embarrassed and lash out. As she is growing older, she is using that anger to block out the embarrassment.
Fright 🡪 can save them from being hurt. My son was afraid of dogs when he was younger. Now, he loves them, but is more cautious around them.
Emotions are important and dismissing them can lead to them resurfacing in unhealthy ways. This can also lead to mental health issues like anxiety and depression. It is important to not encourage old fashioned thoughts based on gender stereotypes too. It is 2021, emotional suppression is no longer the norm and helping children to regulate and understand their emotions is a big step towards breaking that stereotype. Boys are allowed to cry and girls are allowed to just be angry.
My daughter never really knew how to channel her frustrations before we took her to her therapist. It would just explode out of her out of nowhere! It took a while for her to explain why she was feeling this way and how it happened. Now, she still gets clenched fists and a flushed face, but after a few breaths, she can recognise what is causing her to be upset or frustrated and we help her sort it out from there before it gets out of control.
A great way to help your child monitor their emotions is the RULER approach, something our therapist taught us. Let’s be honest, everyone has the need to feel understood and valued. Understanding ourselves and others, expressing our emotions in compassionate ways, and respecting ourselves and each other are essential life skills. The RULER approach is the first step to social and emotional learning and to help promote the 5 principles of emotional intelligence.
- Recognising emotions in ourselves and others
- Understanding the causes and consequences of emotions
- Labelling emotions accurately
- Expressing emotions appropriately
- Regulating emotions effectively
Early learning and recognition of emotions gives your child a better chance and understanding to deal with complex feelings as they grow.
This week’s ParentalEQ’s BackPack App new module “Monitoring Emotions” gives a detailed insight to the RULER approach as well as effective understanding of the how and why teaching our kids how to monitor their emotions is so important.
Emotions are there to warn us, protect us and connect us. Without them, we’re not human but they don’t have to control us. Let’s teach that to our kids and ourselves as parents.
Written with emotions by Casey Luxford