How to Help a Child Regulate Their Emotions?

Emotional regulation is an important skill for children to develop as it allows them to manage their feelings in a healthy way. Children who struggle to regulate their emotions may have frequent emotional outbursts, appear anxious or angry, or shut down when experiencing big feelings. As a parent, you play a big role in teaching your child how to understand and regulate their emotions. Here are some tips on how to help your child gain control over their feelings:

Validate Their Feelings

The first step in helping a child regulate emotions is to validate what they are feeling. When your child is upset, crying, angry, etc., recognize and name the emotion. Say something like, “I can see you’re feeling really angry right now. It’s okay to feel angry sometimes.” Validation helps them feel understood and begins to defuse the intensity of the emotion.

Teach Emotion Identification

Children must be able to recognize different emotions before they can regulate them. At a young age, start putting simple labels on emotions like happy, sad, mad, frustrated, disappointed, proud, etc. Point out facial expressions, body language, and tones of voice that match different feelings. Read books and watch shows that name emotions. The better they understand emotions, the better they can control them.

Use Feeling Charts

Feeling charts provide a visual aid for emotion identification. Make a simple chart with different emotion words and facial expressions. Go through each emotion with your child and have them act it out or give an example of a time they felt that way. Refer to the chart throughout the day and ask your child to identify how they are feeling.

Take a Break

Sometimes a child just needs a moment to cool down when emotions are running high. Give them space by encouraging them to take some deep breaths, get a drink of water, or take a short break from the situation causing the feelings. Taking a break can help diffuse the intensity of the emotion and makes it easier to regroup and regain control.

Teach Coping Skills

Equip your child with healthy coping skills to manage big emotions when they arise. Strategies like deep breathing, visualization, and meditation relax the body and mind. Exercise and movement like stretching help release energy and tension. Creative outlets like coloring, playing with sensory toys, or listening to music provide an emotional release. Have younger children identify go-to coping skills they can use when upset.

Set a Good Example

Children learn emotional intelligence by watching parents and caregivers. Be mindful of how you handle your own emotions and model healthy regulation. Use feeling words to express your emotions, take time to cool down when frustrated, and explain how you manage stress and anger. Your example will influence how your child learns to handle their feelings.

Helping a child gain control over their emotions takes time and consistency. But by following these tips, validating feelings, teaching coping skills, and setting a good example, you will help guide your child to better emotional competence and regulation. With your support, they will develop skills to navigate emotions that extend into adulthood.