Have an Overly Emotional Child?
Can’t find time to read all of those parenting books and magazines? Don’t have a lot of mommy friends to bounce ideas off of? Kids go crazy every time you get on the phone to ask a friend their advice? No problem; I’ll do the work for you! I’m bringing you kid-tested parenting tips for specific parenting challenges “from the mouths of moms.” We’ve already shared lots of tips for dealing with picky eaters, getting kids to sleep better, ensuring stress-free play dates, cooking with kids, potty training success, promoting sibling bonding, teaching good touch bad touch, and taming toddler aggression. Now here are direct quotes from a diverse group of moms (with kids of all ages and tons of experience) on dealing with an overly emotional child…
Alright, Mamas, how do you deal with an overly emotional child?
1. Make Eye Contact
“I get down to his level (as in physically bend down to make eye contact) and acknowledge how he is feeling. Keep my voice calm and try to help him through it until he feels calm again.” Ness from One Perfect Day
2. Validate Their Emotions
“I think one important thing to do (that I have such a hard time remembering to do sometimes) is to validate their emotions. Make sure they know that you understand what they are feeling before immediately redirecting or reprimanding.” Krissy from B-Inspired Mama
3. Keep A Routine
“I try to keep things predictable, talk to my son about what is going to happen today, talk him through changes to plans or routines so there’s no surprises that could trigger an emotional meltdown.” Ness from One Perfect Day
4. Give Them A Supportive Environment
“I used to try and figure out ways to try and avoid [my daughter’s] tears; I can see now that it is just the way she naturally expresses herself. She ‘breaks down’ in many different situations. I give her a supportive environment where she knows that it is okay to release her emotions. The wave of emotions will pass in a few minutes and with a warm hug. I have no idea how her deeply felt emotions will impact her as she grows into her teen years. I hope my support is teaching her that it is better to release the emotion than to bottle it up inside.” Jennifer from Kitchen Counter Chronicles
5. Ease Transitions
“Make sure you give them as much info as you can … ‘We will be going to leave in 10 minutes to go ______. This is what we will be doing there. This is who will be there.’” Laura from PlayDrMom
6. Distract Them With Counting
“We validate his feelings first – ‘I know you miss daddy but he’s had to go to work so that we can have nice toys and food,’ etc… then when they are starting to calm down I have found that counting to 20 with me really calms him down – it seems to focus him and then we can talk about where Daddy is.” Cerys from Rainy Day Mum
7. Give Them Time to Calm Down
“Also, I’ve learned that if they get really upset it can help to give them some time to calm down before trying to talk about what they are upset about – validate the emotion and then discuss it later.” MaryAnne from Mama Smiles
8. Try a Tickle
“We call it ‘tickle torture’ but it is really just a way to make your child laugh. We say, “If you aren’t able to calm down, you have three options: 1) tickles, 2) boops or 3) kisses.” 9 times out of 10 this alone gets him to snap out of his bit of crazy. Then we can address the behavior if we feel we need to do so.” Marnie from Carrots Are Orange (Check out lots more alternatives to “time out” from Marnie!)
9. Give a Big Hug
“I find what works is telling her I understand why she feels this way, but I don’t understand why she is acting this way. When we are mad, we don’t hit. When we are sad, we don’t throw ourselves on the ground. I also take her aside and give her a very big, deep pressure hug. That sometimes helps her, too.” Danielle from 52 Brand New
10. Teach Them to Use Their Words
“We’ve focused a lot on talking about our feelings and using our words to express how we feel. As it’s something we’ve done from birth, if we’re ever having a melt down I can generally just remind my daughter to use her words and that usually works to start to calm her down. I remind her that I can’t understand her but that I can understand that she’s upset and to tell me about it.” Deborah from Learn with Play @ Home
11. Make Sure They’re Basic Needs Are Met
“[My kids] seem to peak if they are tired or hungry. We make sure to have healthy, well balanced meals on a fairly scheduled basis AND have the kids get enough sleep. This doesn’t always help, but is worth a go!” Amanda from The Educators’ Spin On It
12. Teach Them About Emotions
“We just participated in a children’s book swap with Laura from PlayDrMom and received the children’s book Today I Feel Silly: And Other Moods That Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis. It’s a great book to teach kids about emotions and start a conversation about how to appropriately express them.” Krissy from B-Inspired Mama
Do you have a child who you would consider “overly emotional”? How do you handle it? Join the conversation in the comments below!
More Parenting Tips “From the Mouths of Moms”:
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