An Adeona Family Podcast: An Early Childhood Journey
Episode 03: Understanding Your Child’s Emotions & How To Deal With Them
(Emotional Health Part 3 of 3)
On this episode of the Adeona podcast, we wrap up our 3 part series on emotional health by shining a light on the emotions of children and how we can employ proven strategies and techniques to manage them.
The way we deal and cope with big emotions is often hardwired into us from an early age.
In moments of stress, we become more reactive and we resort to what’s been hardwired in our brain, which is often how we were parented. These moments of stress make us unable to access our up-stairs brain, which is responsible for intricate mental processing like planning, decision-making, self-awareness and empathy.
How we as parents, carers and educators respond to an incident is how children learn. Children see how we respond, which sends them information about whether they are good or bad, and they copy it. That message gets internalised and then they repeat those messages to their friends on the playground.
Likewise, being in a heightened emotional state will, in turn, heighten the emotional state and response of the child as they are unable to find that calm place they need to regulate themselves
Empathy in the early stages of emotional dysregulation, as well as getting down on the child’s level, helps them to calm down. Even when the child has exhibited behaviour in response to a strong emotion that you do not approve of, starting by letting the child know that you can see they’re upset, acknowledging their feelings, acknowledging what’s going on, and letting them know that you understand and connect with them.
However, small amounts of stress help children build the resilience parts of their brain.
For example, some centres pride themselves on distracting children from the heightened emotional states associated with the drop-off period. Whereas at Adeona, we acknowledge the child’s feelings, we practise empathy and connect with the child to let them know that we understand this is a difficult period and that we’re here for them as long as they need us. Using whole language with children is important as children can understand much more than we give them credit for.
It’s about connecting and then engaging the upper brain.
- Talking out how you’re dealing with whatever emotional state you are in communicates healthy and positive ways for children to regulate their emotions as well.
- Being authentic: acknowledge when you could’ve done things better.
- Sportscasting: being present, being emotionally available and stating the facts of what’s happened. This is a powerful tool when you might not understand why your child is upset.
- Being present or filling a child’s cup. Giving them lots of love and attention in those care moments so that when disappointment or strong emotions come their way, their cup is full and they’re better able to handle those situations.
- Acknowledging feelings and accepting them as genuine even if we don’t understand them or agree with them. We need to acknowledge that what they’re feeling is real. This is vital to helping your child feel validated and develop healthy emotions.
- Brene Brown’s Explanation of Empathy
- Janet Lansbury
- The RIE bookstore
We’d love to hear from you! If you have any feedback, suggestions or questions about anything we discussed today, please feel free to reach out – firstname.lastname@example.org.
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