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Children and Emotions: How Can We Support Little People with BIG Feelings?

Even as newborns, children feel intense emotions, but it takes years to fully develop emotional regulation skills. As a parent coach, developmental psychology expert, and preschool director, I know how challenging it can be to help kids express their emotions in a healthy way.

Watching your child struggle with frustration, anger, and sadness can feel overwhelming, and emotional dysregulation can have a deep, negative impact on your home’s atmosphere. Luckily, it’s never too late (or early!) to teach emotional intelligence through emotion coaching.

Address, Don’t Suppress

As a parent, it might be tempting to dismiss or suppress your child’s negative emotions, especially when we’re frazzled or frustrated and just want a quick, quiet resolution. ‘Skipping’ the tantrum isn’t an option just because you tell them to. Try to avoid saying:

  • Get over it

  • You’re overreacting

  • It’s nothing, stop whining

Coach through Coping

Instead, we can guide them through the self-soothing process and label their emotions with feeling words. Support and validate their emotions by saying, “You look frustrated. Is that how you feel?” Then, talk through calming strategies together. Some of my favorite coping skills for kids are:

  • Close your eyes and imagine your favorite place

  • Name foods in the alphabet (apple, banana, candy…)

  • Lift arms up and breathe in, then put arms down and breathe out

Model Emotional Intelligence

When children are agitated, they transition into ‘fight or flight’ mode, so their problem-solving skills are even less accessible. Children subconsciously pick up on our emotions and reflect how they see adults react. In order to help them calm down, we need to stay calm, too.

  • Use empathetic distractions to shift their focus away from the stressor

  • Respond with warm, loving physical touches – like a hug or back rub

  • Work with a licensed professional to learn more emotion coaching strategies

To learn more about this topic or get a more in depth look please visit the following link:

Always with love,

Lissarette Nisnevich

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