Written by Rebecca Ginnetti, School Counselor
During these unique times, children and adults are continuing to manage higher levels of stress and worry. Children of all ages will release stress and worry. Some children will have emotional outbursts, engage in disruptive behaviors, while others may withdraw and become less expressive verbally and physically. The following are some tips for parents and caregivers for managing emotions.
Tip #1: Positive Attention
Praise desired behavior, such as kindness or moving through disappointments and transitions in calm, safe ways. Ignore the small stuff such as whining, temper tantrums. Follow up the ignore phase with a praise for desired behavior.
Tip #2: Help Children Manage Big EmotionsHelp them calm their bodies and brains first with breathing, taking a break/walk, and then listen without interrupting. Validate their emotions, offer empathy, identify the size of the problem, and offer to help them problem solve.
Tip #3: Provide Consistency Where You Can
Consistent routines and expectations provide a safe and reliable environment while children are developing and growing and this predictability is especially important during uncertain times. Identify age-appropriate opportunities when children can exercise choice and provide clear boundaries with appropriate, such as screen time, what types of games or activities they can access online.
Tip #4: Model Emotion Regulation and Self CareWhile adults are also experiencing and regulating emotions, considering what behaviors and communication you want to role model for your child to copy is an important consideration. Practice self-care. Take time for yourself, prioritizing sleep, exercise, and healthy eating. This is more important than ever.
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
How to Manage a Meltdown - Lisa Damour, PhD
Healthychildren.org - Parenting in a Pandemic
Behavior Therapy Associates - Managing Children's Challenging Behaviors in the Midst of Coronaviurs (COVID-19)