Big Emotions & Kids

Big Emotions Can Be Scary!

Big-Emotions blog

What Do You Do When Your Kid Has Big Emotions?

Big Emotions are intense and scary for anyone… your body is out of control including your hormones and neurotransmitters. Not only are big emotions scary for the person having them, they can scare those around you. Anyone can struggle when they were not taught how to handle big emotions. Your job as a parent is to recognize and understand your own big emotions, learn to deal with them in a healthy way… and then teach your child to do the same.

Steps to Handling BIG EMOTIONS – (When everyone’s calm)

  1. Discuss what BIG EMOTIONS are: Anger, Sadness, Frustration, Overwhelm, etc.
  2. Discuss your experiences with BIG EMOTIONS and how everyone has them.
  3. Make a list with your kid of how to handle BIG EMOTIONS in a healthy way.  (take a walk, say how you feel, go to a quite place, get some fresh air, breathe, get a drink of water, get under a heavy blanket, cuddle with loved one…etc.)
  4. Set Boundaries. Make sure it’s clear that it’s never okay to hurt anyone or anything when angry. Discuss how people do and say things they don’t mean when they are angry, and then they often regret it.
  5. Role Play. Take turns and try on some big emotions and handling them in a healthy way.  My favorites are…
    • BIG EMOTION: Anger – getting outside for some fresh air and a walk
    • BIG EMOTION: Sadness- going to a quiet place, under a heavy blanket, and a cuddle.
  6. Think out loud while role-playing and during the day so that your kids can hear what you are thinking as you handle your emotions. “Wow, I’m so mad. I forgot the tickets. I need to take a few breaths… just give me a moment to calm down… maybe a walk too… ”  The more your child hears your inner dialogue the more it’ll become theirs.

Steps to Handling BIG EMOTIONS – (When they are happening)

  1. Recognize big emotion and if needed, set boundaries.  Ex.  “I can see you are very angry, I will talk to you when you are calm.”  (or “no, it’s not okay to hit. First calm down, then you will have my full attention.”)
  2. Make sure they are safe until calm… even if it takes 45 minutes. Do NOT give them attention until they have calmed down. Do NOT yell at them. Do NOT scare them. They are already scared… just give them space to calm down.
  3. Once calm, praise them for calming themselves down, even if it took an hour. Then help them clean up as you talk about big emotions. (see “Steps to handling big emotions – when everyone’s calm”… above)
  4. If your child gets as angry as my 6-year-old, you may need to take a moment for yourself to get some fresh air, listen to some soothing music, or even get a baby sitter for a few hours to recover.
  5. Do NOT punish your kids once they have calmed down. They need praise for calming down and encouragement that they can probably calm down even quicker next time.

*my son (age 6) can get stuck in a meltdown/violent attack, and I want to share a quick story.  Yesterday on a drive home, my son started to melt down, because I said no to going on a walk. As I drove, he hurled a large blue ice block at my face, then a second one, also a direct hit. I quickly pulled the car over, and I was desperate to calm him down. After what seemed forever as my face and ear throbbed in pain…  I tried repeating “I love you, I love you, you are safe” as I blocked his hits and tried to keep him out of the front seat… and my son went from being violent towards me to weeping on the floor. Meeting his anger and violence with love quickly melted his aggression… it was really amazing to witness. In the future, I will be experimenting with this and also be sure to NOT keep large heavy objects next to him in the back seat of the car.

What everyone needs to know about BIG EMOTIONS

  1. Big Emotions are NOT bad. Emotions are normal, and they are your body/mind’s way of communicating something.
  2. Everyone has BIG EMOTIONS.
  3. Feelings do NOT need limits and boundaries…. but behavior definitely does.
  4. NOT everyone deals with them in a health way. Even adults develop unhealthy coping strategies like comfort eating, drinking, smoking, etc.
  5. It takes practice. Practice when you are calm and when you are not calm.
  6. The more you model good coping strategies for BIG EMOTIONS, the better your kids can learn from your example.

Be gentle with yourself and your kids as you learn to step into a deeper place of feeling and managing those BIG EMOTIONS. You CAN do this!

Lots of Light,

Candice

Candice T. Aguirre is the author of Yawning Yawning, Time for Bed a magical nighttime social story sharing love and values while teaching the bedtime routine. Read or sing to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star and insert your own values and bits of wisdom along the way. A great way to make a big impression on your children at a very magical time… that is… right as they relax to fall asleep and their brain waves change, allowing them to absorb what you tell them on a very deep level for learning that lasts.

Got Parenting? What Kind of Relationship Do You Want With Your Child?

Your Parenting Style Is Your Relationship with Your Child

parenting, conscious parenting, kids, trust

Parenting with love, anger, fear? Everything you do and say is forming the type of relationship you have and will have with your child. Are you in a dictator relationship where they do what you say no questions asked? Are you in a manipulative relationship where they will say and do what they know you want to hear in fear that perhaps you won’t approve of them or love them if they have their own opinions? Or, are you in a conscious relationship where your child can have their own likes and dislikes, their own opinions, and come to you easily with their needs and problems? Perhaps it’s a combination of the above or something different entirely. Either way, you have the awesome opportunity to be the person your child trusts and loves enough to go to with their joys, fears, successes, failures, embarrassments, needs, worries and more throughout their life.

Parenting Style of My Childhood

For some reason, I grew up feeling like I was never good enough… like I had to be perfect… I couldn’t make mistakes… and that I just wasn’t worthy. My parents were good parents, but we never talked about emotions and we were shown conditional love… meaning if we had bad behavior, they would get angry with us. Thing is, I got the message that it was not ok to mess up, and when I mess up they get mad. So, when I did have struggles and even messed up as a young adult more than once, I didn’t know who to turn to. I could have really used a loving parent to lean on, but I was too ashamed and afraid of the judgement I would receive if I opened up… probably more a result of religious dogma and fear, but nonetheless, my truth at the time.

Your Parenting Style and Your Kids

My son is now 6, and I love him no matter what. I am sure to tell him that all the time. I do also make a point to always validate his feelings and set limits on his behavior. Interesting enough, that is not the norm. I was at a back-to-school orientation night, and the director was asking us in the audience to list some qualities that we value in our homes. And, I raised my hand and said “unconditional love”.  She disagreed in front of the entire auditorium and went on to say that it’s pretty hard to love a kid when they are doing the wrong thing. I was shocked at the matter of fact way she discounted what I said. I had truly learned to love my son even though he doesn’t always do the right thing… I had to… my son was just that kid who did the wrong thing often, and I hated the person I was becoming, getting mad and reacting to unwanted behavior rather than responding to it. It was not working for either of us. I’m happy I had the opportunity to learn how to love my son even when he’s not doing the right thing. Besides constantly helping him to identify his own emotions, I feel like I am constantly reassuring him it’s ok to have emotions and make mistakes while teaching him appropriate ways to handle them both.

Love Based Parenting Style Could Change the World

What would happen if all kids got the message that they were loved no matter what? If kids knew they were loved even if they got bad grades, or tried drugs, or had sex or got pregnant? I’m not saying you have to like what they did, I’m just presenting what it would be like if kids who got themselves into a mess actually had an unconditionally loving parent to turn to for help. Perhaps that kid wouldn’t even get into a mess… they’d talk to you about their struggle with their teacher or that subject in school and they would come talk to you about wanting to have sex or about how they may be feeling pressured to have sex. Then, these secure kids would grow into adults knowing they are loved even though they are not perfect, so they can skip the many years of having to learn to love and accept themselves as they are (because they already do) and get right to making a contribution to our world.

Conscious Parenting Can Begin Early

Do you love your kids unconditionally? Really? Can they be who they want and still get your attention? How often does your child come to you with an embarrassing situation or an intimate feeling or thought? How often do you share either with them? I was recently talking with a friend whose husband is a good guy but is sadly distancing himself from his daughter. He had taking her on a hike but decided not to bring water. He talked about how he spent many hours as a kid helping out his family and didn’t have water… and he was proud of how tough it made him. Problem was, in talking to her daughter, my friend finds out that she was really thirsty on the hike, but she didn’t say anything to her father. Was she embarrassed that she needed water… did she think he wouldn’t approve since he could go without water? Whatever the case… this little girl was unable to acknowledge one of her most basic primary needs and communicate that to a person she is supposed to love and trust. What is this teaching her about her needs? That her needs are not important… to not speak up… to comply so that others will love her! Wow, this is so dangerous. All because a father wants to teach their child something. Note to this father and other parents like him: Your child will NOT be coming to you when they are being pressured into sex or drugs if they can’t even express that they are thirsty!

Parenting Made Simple

Love is the answer. Don’t worry so much about what you want to teach your kid. Worry more about modeling how to think constructively, plan ahead, and love with your whole heart. Model how to handle your emotions eloquently. Model how to have fun in a safe way and how to say no when you want to. If you want to teach them something, then ask them how they are feeling? Ask them to check in with their bodies to see if they are hungry or thirsty or feeling like some exercise. Ask them, before the hike, if they’d like to bring water or a snack? (Then when they take a friend for a hike, they’ll consider their friend’s needs and ask them if they would like to bring water, etc.) Empower them with the tools of how to be prepared, how to love, how to understand what they are feeling, and of how to use their voice. Do this by modeling it for them and talking with them about it on a daily basis. Your kids are our future!

Love yourself and your kids enough to be the person they turn to when they need someone most.

Lots of Light,

Candice T . Aguirre