We’ve all been there, it’s in the heat of the moment, we are trying to soothe our child, but they keep screaming, and before we know it we yell “STOP!” It happens to the best of us, but it’s a bad option when it comes down to it.
Children are just that, children. And part of our job in raising them is teaching them how to manage their emotions. Yelling is simply another form of invalidation, which is not only hurtful because of the context, but is also hurtful in the grand scheme of things. Not only that but how can you expect your child to be able to emotionally handle themselves when you yell at them? While it’s a very human thing to do, it can be very counterproductive.
So what do you do instead? Check out these 11 ways to emotion coach your kids, instead of yelling.
1. Be aware of your own emotions.
To teach your child how to work through their emotions, you must also be aware of your own. Children learn through watching us, so if you practice what you preach, it will teach them a far more valuable lesson than anything else.
2. Be aware of your child’s emotions.
Also, pay attention to your child’s emotions and how they react to them. Over time, you will notice behavioral patterns tied to their emotions, and then you can help coach them through the emotion at hand.
3. Use negative emotions as an opportunity to teach your child.
When you notice your child is upset, use this moment to teach them. For example, if they are angry because you won’t let them watch a movie before bed, say, “I know you are angry, I can see that. It’s okay to be angry, though. I feel angry sometimes too. When I feel angry, I like to ______.”
4. Use negative emotions to bond with your child.
When your child is upset, bond with them. Hold them close to you, if they will let you, and hug them tight. Soothe them through the emotion.
5. Label emotions to your child.
A great way to teach your child about their emotions is to help them label them. You can do this when you are watching a movie together, out in public, or when you are alone. But, using others to help explain can be beneficial. For example, you might say, “That little boy looks very stressed out,” or “That little girl seems super excited!”
6. Talk with your child about practical strategies to handle their emotions.
Before big emotions come on, take time to prepare. Sit down and ask them how they should react to certain emotions, and then give them good advice and make a plan together.
7. Realize their behaviors are communications.
All behaviors of a child are a means to communicate. They might be screaming or throwing things because they are tired. Or they might be jumping around like a banshee because they are excited. Their behavior is a communication to you.
8. Give them a feeling break.
Another great tip for when they get upset is a feeling break. If they are crying and upset, give them a chance to take a step back and gather themselves.
9. Give them words to express their emotions.
If you notice they are upset and why, but they don’t understand, give them some words. For example, “I notice you are crying and screaming, are you upset or angry about something?”
10. Use sensory play to recenter them.
When their moods are all over the place, help them recenter. A good way to do this is with sensory play. You can fill a jar with some glitter and some glue, or make a bag filled with pretty pom poms. Give it to them when they get upset, so they can soothe themselves back down.
11. Maintain a calm space for them to release negative emotions.
Keep an area of the house as their calm space. You can put a radio in the area, some calming posters, or toys, or whatever helps them. When they get upset, ask them, “Do you need a feeling break in your calm space?”