Some children have trouble managing negative emotions. In children, emotional problems are usually manifested as behavioral problems. All parents want their children to lead happy and successful lives. So, when parents observe their child having frequent angry outburst; and when their child lacks appropriate social skills, they worry about their behaviors hindering a successful future. Being able to manage emotions and have positive social skills is important in success at school and work.
And many parents struggle with helping their children with managing their emotions and demonstrate positive social skills.

How can parents help their child manage their emotions?

The first step is helping children recognize and name their feelings. Often times, children will demonstrate negative behaviors (i.e. stomping feet, yelling, hitting, biting, kicking, spitting, withdrawal) when they experience strong negative feelings. Parents can help their children by interpreting these behaviors using an emotional vocabulary: “It sounds like it makes you sad when Lisa does not want to play with you.” Also, it is good to normalize a child’s feelings. Let them know that even parents, teachers, and counselors sometimes feel sad, angry, worried, frustrated, scared, annoyed, or nervous.

Model appropriate ways to manage their emotions. Always remember, your children are watching you! So if they see important adults, cussing and screaming when they become upset, most likely they will do the same. Parents can help their children by helping to identify socially appropriate ways to manage their feelings. Give your child alternative options (coping skills) when they become upset. For example, “You can’t hit your brother when you become upset; but you can punch or scream into your pillow.” Teaching kids coping skills is vital.
Also, helping your child to recognize their feelings is another essential social skill. Discuss events, stories, shows, etc. Read a short story with your child, and discuss how the characters felt in their situations. Go on to explore your child’s personal experiences—and them feeling similar emotions and what caused them to feel that way. This is considered, “connecting.”
One thing that should be brought into homes is, “dinner time”. These days, families have become so busy with work. One child is watching tv, mom is on the phone, another child is on the internet, and dad is texting his buddies. In other words, everyone has become so wrapped up in their own personal world, we don’t make time anymore to sit and have a family meal together. And these are the most important times when family can share and discuss their day. Make time to spend with your children. Another suggestion is to have family meetings (I will discuss this more in depth in a future blog article)

Consistently give rewards and consequences. This is where many parents have difficulties. Families I work with struggle with being consistent because of their own personal stress; becoming burnt out from child‘s behaviors; difficulties with providing/affording rewards, etc. Just because you punished or praised your child one or two times for a particular behavior, doesn’t necessarily mean they “get it”. Children will continue to test boundaries, just to make sure you are really serious. In addition, when working toward extinguishing a negative behavior, the child’s behaviors will increase before they decrease. And this can become unbearable for parents. However, if you give in, then the child will learn that their temper tantrums will allow them to get their way, therefore the behaviors will continue.

Notice your child’s positive behaviors and praise their accomplishments. Children continue to demonstrate negative behaviors because people give it more attention. Or, they may believe there is no point in demonstrating positive behaviors because no one cares or it is not good enough. Children love to please their parents, and they will do whatever (positive or negative) it takes to get your attention.

Take time to listen to your child discuss his/her day; be considerate of their feelings. And be patient with them. These are ways your child will develop into a secure, loving and resilient individual.

Author's Bio: 

Veronica J Burgess, has over 7 years working in the mental health/therapy field. Veronica has a Bachelors of Science in Child Development and Family Relations, Indiana University of Pennsylvania. And, a Masters in Social Worker--Direct Practice, University of Pittsburgh. Veronica is state certified in Functional Behavioral Assessment. And is trained in Trauma Focused Therapy. Veronica currently is a therapist working with children and their families. As a gifted tarot reader, she has had the privilege of working with many clients from various countries and walks of life.