The Importance of Emotional Regulation

At school, your child may have to go through many different kinds of activities and may be experiencing a multitude of different emotions. From going through an exam, to preparing for a presentation, to participating in a sports competition, to making friends in class. Each activity brings about a different set of emotions that a child may experience. An example could be a child being in an argument with one of his or her friends. Some of the emotions may include anger, disappointment, and sadness at the end of the argument. It can be difficult to know what to do with the wave of emotions when it comes, especially when it gets overwhelming.

Here are some ways that you can help your child to start learning emotional regulation, in bid to better handle the emotions that come with experiences at school: 

Encourage Self-Awareness

Helping your child to identify and internalise their emotions is a good start to emotional regulation. It is important to encourage your child to be self-aware of how he or she is feeling. This can be done through writing and journaling what happened throughout the day and the emotions that they faced. Penning down their thoughts on why they behaved a certain way can also help them to identify their emotions better. This not only helps them to validate themselves on how they are feeling, it also helps them to know the emotions that need to be addressed and not dismissed. 

Besides writing, simple exercises to check on how they are feeling can  be conducted. Parents can ask their child to rate how they are feeling on a scale of one to ten, and then ask them to rate the level of intensity of how they are feeling again. This way, both parent and child are on the same page on how the child is feeling, and can work together to better support the child’s needs. 

Communicating Possibilities for Emotional Relief

Your child might be feeling different kinds of emotions, but might not know the best way to express them or handle them. Some of the ways that might not be the healthiest to express or manage negative emotions include emotional dumping, tantrum throwing, and procrastination. If the child is throwing a tantrum, for example, he or she might not be able to receive emotional support from others and continue to wrestle with feelings of anger alone. It might take a longer time for him or her to come out of the negative spiral. 

Although it is important to validate your child’s feelings, it is also important to introduce them to healthier avenues of emotional relief. Teaching them breathing exercises, and helping them to take a moment to process their emotions before acting on these emotions are some examples of coping strategies. Once the child has processed their emotions, you can also start exploring ways that can help him or her feel better. Sometimes, being emotionally available to them and giving them a hug is all they need after experiencing something that was emotionally draining to them. Overtime, your child might understand that there are healthier ways of coping with their emotions and turn to these strategies for relief. 

Loving Oneself

Emotional regulation is not just about handling the negative emotions, it’s also about cultivating positive feelings and doing things that build on a healthy mindset. Emotions like happiness, excitement, love, and gratitude often come with a positive state of mental health. Parents can encourage their child to identify activities that they enjoy doing and teach them to place importance on their own wellbeing and mental health. For example, if your child enjoys swimming and other kinds of sports, encouraging him or her to cultivate a healthy lifestyle by trying out different sports is beneficial to them in the long run. If your child enjoys reading books, encourage him or her to start a book collection or visit the library together with them. Helping them to understand that their welfare matters to you will encourage them to see themselves the same way.

At school, it can be an overwhelming experience of preparing for examinations, tests, school competitions, and maintaining a social life etc. Reminding your child to take time for themselves and look after their wellbeing can help them to be more productive in the long run. A positive mentality and breaks to emotionally recuperate can help with preventing burnout. 

Being your Child’s Role Model

Children look up to their parents and follow in their footsteps. It’s important that you are also able to emotionally regulate as you can set an example for your child to follow. From the way that you manage unexpected situations, to the way that you act on your emotions, your child will learn by example. 

Talking to your child about their difficulties and understanding the emotions that they are feeling will help you to relate to them better. If you recall a similar experience that your child is currently facing, you can share with them that experience and how you coped with the emotions that came with it in a healthy way. For example, if your child is feeling overwhelmed and stressed up preparing for an examination, you can share a similar experience that you faced and your coping strategy might have been to take strolls in the park, or pausing and taking a breather outdoors. As your child listens to your sharing, he or she may take comfort in not being alone in their struggles. 

It can be difficult  to navigate through the jungle of emotions for an adult, let alone a child. It can be even harder to figure out the best way of handling these emotions. It’s helpful for your child to start learning the importance of emotional regulation early. In the long run, they would know how to help themselves best and would be able to regulate their emotions independently. 

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