Emotional regulation is the ability to react in an appropriate manner to a situation. Some kids can find this challenging for varying reasons.
Young children typically have the most difficulty expressing their emotions or being able to regulate their emotions appropriately. They may show signs of depression, cry excessively, have difficulty coping, be anxious, aggressive, withdraw, become angry easily, and/or may demonstrate oppositional behaviours.
When children are young it is important that they learn to use the correct words to express the emotion that they are feeling (e.g., angry, scared, happy, sad).
Let’s face it, parents have bad days too. Yet children learn by watching their parents. When parents yell, children yell. When parents get angry, children become angry. If you as a parent feel your emotions getting heightened, you need to take a “time out” so that you can come back to the situation with some clarity and calm. Seeing your example of how you behave when you’re angry teaches your children how to regulate their own emotions.
It is also important as parents to understand and empathize with our children that they too are going to have bad days and not to lose our cool when our child is having a meltdown. Allow them to feel what they are feeling and model the behaviour we would like them to use in the future.
We need to allow our children to feel the way they feel as long as they are doing so in a safe manner. For instance, they can show that they are angry as long as they are not being aggressive or harming themselves or anyone else.
We need to guide our children’s behaviour without the urge to punish them. While it may be difficult as parents to stay calm, cool and collected when your child is having a meltdown, it is important to let your child feel safe enough to show their emotions.