Growing up isn’t easy — you probably remember. Your little brother broke your toys. Your parents wouldn’t let you play your favorite video games. Your teacher gave you too much homework. All these little grievances add up, and kids end up feeling like the only thing they have control over is their emotions. For parents, that means one thing: tantrums. By teaching your kids to handle their emotions in a healthier way, not only can you avert dreaded meltdowns, but you can also give your kids a tool that will serve them for life.
The first, and most important, step in teaching kids emotional control is helping them to recognize and understand their feelings. Young children rarely intend to have tantrums, and often aren’t even aware of exactly why they’re upset. According to The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL), helping kids to name and recognize their emotions is an important starting step. Only once they understand what they’re feeling can you teach them how to better handle it. To get started, download CSEFEL’s easy to follow guide. You can also check out Mostly Mindful Mommy to find helpful mindfulness tips for kids, and even group mindfulness classes.
Meditation isn’t just beneficial for adults. It can help kids to take a deep breath, relax, and regain control. Because traditional meditation videos aren’t generally kid friendly, using a mindfulness toy like the CogniToys Dino can be a good way to get started. With lines like “Sit comfortably with your back straight, criss-cross applesauce like a pretzel,” the Dino makes meditation fun while teaching relaxation methods that kids can turn to any time they’re upset or frustrated.
3: Controlled Expression
Teach your kids the importance of expressing their emotions in a controlled way by rewarding them when they do. For example, show them how to write a letter explaining why they’re upset. When the letter is complete, read it with them and open a healthy dialogue about their feelings. When you’ve talked about all the things that are bothering them, make a special effort to do something fun together — like baking cookies or playing with their favorite toy.
4: Redefining “Timeout”
Timeouts don’t have to be a punishment for bad behavior, or a negative thing at all. A timeout can just be a few minutes to think and calm down. To take timeouts from a negative to a positive, get your child involved in the process of designing their own timeout space. This space should be comfortable, calming, and filled with pleasant things like books, teddy bears, and pillows. Try letting your little one make their own timeout CD, or help them decorate their space with peaceful images.By teaching your kids one or more of these healthy emotional control techniques, you’ll be prepared for everything from broken toys to canceled vacations. Do you have a favorite calming tool, but don’t see it mentioned here? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment below.