Is your child struggling with regulating their emotions? They’re not alone, and neither are you. It is very common for young children, even infants and toddlers, to struggle with regulating their emotions. Oftentimes, they don’t even know what the emotion they are feeling is, and so they cannot figure out how to ‘fix’ their feelings. As parents and family members, it is our job to help teach our children how to recognize what they are feeling and how to de-escalate those feelings. Here are some quick and easy steps we as parents and guardians can take to help our children with their feelings. 

  1. When your child is having a tantrum or emotional fit, do not tell them to stop. Allow them to feel their feelings, while also being there to support them and connect with them. Tell them that their feelings are valid and that you understand that they are upset. Reassure them that you are there, and that you want to listen to them and talk to them to help them find a solution to their problem. *Their feelings are valid, and we want to give them space to feel them, but we also want to help them figure out a healthy way to feel them and then a healthy way to regulate them. 
  1. Once you have connected with the child and got down on their level to let them know you understand and are there to listen to them, let them know they need to use their words to communicate what they are feeling. Teach them the 4×4 method: Tell them to take four very deep slow breaths and then count to four. 
  1. Once they have done this and are no longer crying, take the time to sit down with them and talk to them about what they are feeling and why. Have your child name their emotion. If they are having trouble naming it, help them by giving them the word and the definition in an easy-to-understand way. 
  1. Once you know the emotion and have had time to discuss your child’s feelings, talk with them to come up with a solution. 
  1. In the future, use the 4×4 method regularly to help your child regulate themselves when they are feeling big emotions, even when you are not around. Encourage them to name their emotion and think about a possible solution. This takes time and a lot of practice, but with your support and guidance, they will get there!

A few fun ways to talk about emotions and help children learn how to recognize them are reading stories about emotions, having a flipbook of a picture of the emotion with the name under it, and by playing games

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About the Author: Charlotte Balavitch
Charlotte Balavitch is a busy mom of three little ones ages 6, 4 and 2. She is married to her high school sweetheart Andrew and together they live in downriver, Michigan. Charlotte is the owner and photographer at Don’t Blink Photography and is also a homeschool mom. Before having children, Charlotte received her teaching degree and taught elementary.

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