Helping Your Child Manage their Emotions During Times of Stress

Your emotions will be just as powerful as your words. Remember that parents are models for their children.

In times of uncertainty, your children are looking at you for direction. According to Tamar Chansky (2004), author of  Freeing Your Child from Anxiety,  no matter how you answer they actually want to know three things:

  • Is it okay that this is happening?
  • Am I okay? 
  • Are you there for me?

Your emotions will be just as powerful as your words. Remember that parents are models for their children. We are all human and should you lose control of your own emotions, accept  ownership of your behavior. “ I am sorry that I lost my temper. Mom (or Dad) was really upset. I am still sad, but this is a sad time. That’s normal. Feelings can be very strong but they are like waves on the beach and they will pass. Sometimes the waves come again, but Mom (or Dad) can take care of herself (himself).” Children are reassured and feel safer when parents are authentic and sincere.

Children are reassured and feel safer when parents are authentic and sincere.

Chansky (2004)

Help your child become emotionally agile by learning from the range of emotions. Emotions are not scary. No matter how big or bad a feeling seems in the moment emotions will change. Emotions are teachers. They provide information that keeps us safe and help us figure out what matters to ourselves and others. Ask your child, “How are you feeling”. “What are some options you have for dealing with this” (Susan David, 2016).

While it is important to validate the range of emotions, during times of stress, parents can shift the focus from a negative to a positive orientation. Fredrickson (2013) suggests promoting frequent “micro-moments” that create brief, positive feelings through-out the day. Taken together, the small moments can create the overall belief that it was a “good day”(in Tranter, Boland and Carson, 2018).

Overtime, connected moments of positivity can result in better learning and overall functioning for the whole family. Staying emotionally regulated is very social. We cannot “do it” or “learn it” on our own (Tranter, Carson and Boland, 2018). Families co-regulate together.

Resources

Chansky, Tamar (2004) Freeing Your Child from Anxiety, Harmony, New York

David, Susan, (2016) Emotional Agility-Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life, Penguin Books,.

Tranter, David, Carson, Lori and Boland, Tom (2018) The Third Path-A Relationship -Based Approach to Student Well-Being and Achievement, Nelson.

Deborah Hinds-Nunziata
B.Ed, M..Ed Registered Psychologist I have worked in schools and private practice as a teacher and a School Psychologist for over 35 years.