Building Resilience in Children: Strategies for Helping Them Cope with Difficult Emotions
Helping children understand and manage their emotions is challenging but provides them with a better and healthier life. It is particularly critical as they mature because their lives will only get more complex and their emotions more demanding. Helping your children develop problem-solving skills and making it easier for them to understand themselves is one of the best gifts a parent can give.
The Challenges You Might Face When Teaching Children About Emotions
Trying to teach your children about their emotions may be challenging because:
- They lack maturity and personal understanding.
- Emotions can be new to them and hard to understand.
- Some feelings can be heavy and hard to process.
- Friends and family may not understand or provide support.
Let’s take a deep look at ways you can help your children master emotional resiliency to become happier and healthier people as they mature into their teens and young adulthood.
Understanding Emotions in Children
Children often have incredibly intense emotions that can make coping and resiliency challenging. Fully grasping the extent of their emotional challenges can help you prepare robust coping strategies for them.
Raising Strong Kids: How to Teach Problem-Solving Skills and Emotional Regulation
There are a few ways you can help teach children problem-solving skills and emotional regulation. The Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework (ELOF) recommends the following:
- Positive and emotionally supportive relationships
- Consistent and predictable emotional environments
- Better social and emotional skills
- Support for children exhibiting challenging behavior
These steps can help you teach your children skills and give them a stronger framework for emotional understanding.
How Children’s Emotional Development Differs From Adults
Children develop emotions differently from adults because their young bodies and minds are not as used to them. For example, a child experiencing jealousy for the first time won’t have a context for the emotion and will struggle to understand why it’s unhealthy or how to handle it.
Parents need to support children through their emotional development, including discussing things in a way they can understand. Children’s progress through the stages of early emotional maturity will vary wildly as they grow, and knowing what to expect can make this process easier.
Common Emotions Children Experience
As children mature, they may experience many emotions, including:
- Excitement – new things will excite them and can make them very hyper.
- Anger – minor frustrations and difficulties can cause great irritation in children.
- Love – intense adoration and attachment are common when children love someone.
- Jealousy – children may develop extreme jealousy that can cause aggression.
- Fear – new and scary situations may cause children to retreat to their parent’s protection.
Identifying Strategies for Regulating Emotions
Teaching your children to regulate their emotions includes talking about any new feelings they may experience and focusing on resiliency, an important skill you can develop with time and attention.
Parenting for Resilience: Tools and Resources to Help Your Child Thrive
Teaching resilience to children requires starting young, building strong emotional bonds, and creating consistency. It can also include resources and tools such as:
- School Counselors – teach your children to talk to their school counselors to get valuable tips and suggestions when they need help.
- Phone Apps – your children can use multiple apps to check their emotions; we’ll discuss some later in this article.
- Daily Emotion Checks – schedule daily “emotion checks” with your children and discuss how they felt that day and how to handle it.
- Books and Television Shows – many children’s shows and books teach children how to handle emotions; we’ll mention some in a separate section.
Emotional Regulation Techniques to Teach Your Children
Emotional regulation skills take time to learn and, honestly, many adults and parents can benefit from teaching their children techniques such as:
- Deep Breathing – counting from one to ten when experiencing emotional challenges and breathing deeply can help calm emotions, clear the head, and make it easier to respond to life’s difficulties.
- Mindfulness – teaching mindfulness to your children helps them understand how they feel in a moment, why they think that way, and how to react positively. Learning these skills will take some time, so start as young as possible.
- Positive Self-Talk – teaching children how to talk positively about themselves when they experience emotional difficulties can help them avoid spiraling negativity and stay happier and healthier people.
Why Modeling Positive Emotions Matters
Your children look to you as their guide in all things, and modeling positive emotional regulation can teach them these skills. For example, rather than getting angry and yelling at them when they mess up, model positive regulation, such as breathing deeply and discussing what has happened with them calmly. This step will show them how they can behave in problematic emotional situations.
Developing Problem-Solving Skills
While problem-solving might seem unrelated to emotional difficulties, teaching these skills to your children can help them increase their emotional intelligence and reactions.
Navigating Difficult Times: Teaching Children the Power of Emotional Intelligence
High emotional intelligence is not inherent in a person but is learned with time and persistence. Teaching your children how to better understand their emotions and those of others can help them cope with personal challenges, such as conflicts with their siblings and friends. It can also give them better emotional management tools as they mature and minimize potential conflicts later in life.
How Problem-Solving Skills Help Children Cope
Problem-solving skills help children tackle life’s difficulties by teaching them to break down emotional situations, understand what caused them, examine their impact, and recover from them safely and efficiently.
Activities and Exercises to Teach Emotional Intelligence
Here are a few simple activities and exercises that can teach your children better emotional intelligence:
- Wool Webs – Wrap a ball of yarn around multiple children and get them to work out how to guide a blindfolded child to unwrap the web. This exercise teaches careful listening, teamwork, and patience to children.
- Escape Room – Find a kid-friendly escape room and visit it with your child, helping them to escape from it using teamwork, problem-solving skills, and emotional intelligence.
- Trust Exercise – Ask your child to fall back into your arms to build trust and understanding. This exercise also helps increase a child’s overall emotional strength and self-awareness.
Tools and Resources for Parents
Parents looking to boost their children’s emotional intelligence can utilize multiple books and other resources to help them move through their emotional maturity more successfully.
Empowering Kids: The Importance of Developing Resilience in Childhood
Teaching resilience in your children’s lives will help them better handle new emotions by making it easier for them to understand what they mean and how to work through their challenges. Thankfully, books, apps, and other fantastic resources can help you develop resilience in your children. It can also help them manage their emotions as they age and experience more challenging things in life. A few books, apps, and resources you can turn to include:
- Otis – a best-selling book that teaches children about emotional resiliency.
- Pete the Cat – this book series teaches children how to handle tricky life experiences.
- She Persisted – a great book about staying persistent and optimistic, no matter what happens.
- Harry Potter – the Harry Potter series teaches essential lessons about trust and emotional strength.
- Breathe, Think, Do – a Sesame Street app that teaches calming breathing techniques for children.
- DreamyKid – an app aimed at helping children build self-confidence and manage their anxiety.
- Headspace for Kids – a kid-friendly meditation app that teaches strong emotional intelligence.
- The Zones of Regulation – an app that teaches emotional management in a way kids understand.
Integrate these tools into your children’s lives by sitting with them and reading a new book on emotional intelligence every night and working with them on the apps together. Teach them how to use these apps and discuss how well they’re using them. By working with your children, you can learn more about each other.
Teaching children about emotional resilience can help them become stronger adults and resist negative behaviors as they age, including the potential for drug addiction and treating codependency later in life. Make sure you read through this entire article, highlight things that make sense for your child, and integrate them into your parenting. Doing so can give your kids the help that they need to thrive.
About the Author: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer with a focus on mental health. He brings a unique perspective to his writing, drawing on his personal experience and professional knowledge to explore these topics and break the stigma associated with them.
Photo by Vanessa Loring: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-preparing-food-with-a-boy-5082205/
The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.
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