Chattahoochee Counseling Connection
The purpose of Chattahoochee Counseling Connection newsletter is to highlight social emotional learning practices for students, teachers, and parents. In October's issue, we are shining our spotlight on EMOTION REGULATION.
Emotion regulation is the ability to exert control over one’s own emotional state. It may involve behaviors such as rethinking a challenging situation to reduce anger or anxiety, hiding anger or anxiety, hiding visible signs of sadness or fear, or focusing on reasons to feel happy or calm. Emotion regulation is the tern used to describe one's ability to recognize and manage feelings.
As we all know, life can be challenging. Parents, teachers, and students all struggle emotionally sometimes. We are human.
Emotion Regulation in Kid-Friendly Terms
To explain emotion regulation to your child, try this:
"Sometimes we have really big feelings. We might feel sad, angry, frustrated, overwhelmed, stressed, or worried. All these feelings are okay to have! We all feel these feelings sometimes, and these feelings can be helpful because they let us know when there might be danger or when things aren't fair. But these feelings can make it hard to think or hard to do what we need to do. Our hearts might pump faster. We might breathe more quickly. Our bellies might hurt or feel full of butterflies. It might be really hard to think or gather our thoughts. When this happens, it's important to have strategies you can use to help yourself feel better. When your body and mind are keyed up and feel like they're racing, it's like when a car is driving as fast as it can! The engine is roaring and the car is difficult to steer. If we don't slow down the car, the engine could overheat or the car could crash. People might get hurt. We need to find a way to slow the car down and cool the engine. Sometimes our bodies can feel like that roaring engine. We need to do things to help our bodies feel calmer and cooler. You can try things like breathing slowly. You can exercise to let go of some of the revved-up energy. You can write or draw about your feelings. There are lots of ways you can deal with big feelings so that your body and mind can feel calmer and you can get back to doing what you need to do and want to do to have fun!"
Excerpt from Social Skills for Kids: From Making Friends and Problem-Solving to Self-Control and Communication, 150+ Activities to Help Your Child Develop Essential Social Skills by Keri K. Powers, MA EdHD, MEd, NCC
Five Tips for Fostering Emotion Regulation in Children
Emotional regulation is an absolute necessity for academic, social, and moral development in children. Parents often find it overwhelming to find the right way to teach emotional regulation to their children and help them deal with the inevitable stressors of everyday life.
Emotional perception and management are never the same for two people, which is why successfully training someone to regulate their emotions can be a difficult task. However, psychologists over the years have come up with some great solutions to this problem.
Here are some hacks that parents and carers can use to cultivate emotional regulation in youngsters (Toub, Rajan, Golinkoff, & Hirsh-Pasek, 2016).
1. Model the right behavior
Children learn best through observation. Showing them what to do rather than verbally directing is sure to generate better results. For example, a child grows up with parents who treat each other with respect and resolve their conflicts without being abusive, will learn to be more emotionally balanced and resilient than a child who grows up with aggressive and abusive parents. It is essential to show children that positivity is the "only" way to deal with stressors, and the best way to do it is by practicing the same ourselves.
2. Delay response time
Encourage the child not to give immediate reactions. Whenever the kid gets angry or is sad, ask them to hold back for a while and react after that. The delay in response time allows the fight-or-flight response to settle down, and in all probability, the child would respond less intensely than they would otherwise have.
3. Work on the child’s emotional vocabulary
Self-expression works great for emotional regulation in children. Often, a child experiences something that they are unable to explain, and the frustration that follows leads to an unpleasant reaction that is not acceptable. A useful strategy is to create a chart with all the emotions named in it, with examples or face illustrations of how the particular passion makes us feel. Being able to call the feelings they are experiencing makes a child more vigilant and aware of their innermost feelings, and reduces the chances of emotional outbursts.
4. Teach them about actions and consequences
When a child is aware of what their actions might bring to them, they will likely choose their steps carefully. Whether in the classroom or at home, we can engage in meaningful conversations with kids about what is an action and what could be its consequences. For example, teachers and parents could make a chart and list some activities with their potential impacts and ask the child to decide which actions they would choose.
5. Let them detect stress
The goal of fostering emotional regulation in children is to make them self-dependent as a person in the future. There are particular situations, people, or events that create stress in children, for example, going to school away from parents, getting scolded by teachers, or someone taking away their favorite toy. If we could devote some time to help them identify the little things that bring unpleasant feelings in them, it can go a long way in making them aware of their stressors and provide them the strength to deal with their emotions effectively as they grow up.
Excerpt from https://positivepsychology.com/emotion-regulation/
Learning happens best when it is done both at school and at home!
Emotion regulation can look and sound different for each person. What works for me may not work for you. What helps you regulate your own emotions may not help your child. Learning and practicing a variety of calming strategies is important so that children figure out what works best for them. Some children may want to talk through their feelings, others may want to be alone with their thoughts. Others may journal or draw, and some may want to run around outside to release their tension.
There are SO many coping skills to choose from! There are calming coping strategies, distracting coping strategies, physical coping strategies, processing coping skills, and many more.
One favorite calming coping skills of CES counselors is one we have mentioned before, the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique. This strategy takes you through your five senses to help remind you of the present.
5- Look around for FIVE things that you can see and say them out loud.
4- Notice four things you can feel and say them out loud.
3- Listen for three sounds. Say these three things out loud.
2- Say two things you can smell.
1- Say one thing you can taste.
Counselor Favorites about emotion regulation
The Way I Feel by Janan Cain
Wilma Jean the Worry Machine by Julia Cook
What To Do When You're Scared and Worried by James J. Crist
Angry Octopus by Lori Lite and Max Stasuyk
My Body Sends a Signal: Helping Kids Recognize Emotions and Express Feelings by Natalia Maguire and Anastasia Zababashkina
Breathe Like a Bear: 30 Mindful Moments for Kids to Feel Calm and Focused Anytime, Anywhere by Kira Willey
Coping Skills for Kids Workbook: Over 75 Coping Strategies to Help Kids Deal with Stress, Anxiety, and Anger by Janine Halloran, MA, LMHC
What To Do When You Worry Too Much by Dawn Huebner, PhD
What To Do When Your Temper Flares by Dawn Huebner, PhD
The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook for Kids: Help for Children to Cope with Stress, Anxiety, and Transitions by Lawrence Shapiro, PhD, and Robin Sprague
Happy Fall, Y'all!
We would like to remind you that we are available for extra support if your child should need it. Please see below for our individual contact information.