Finally, teach your child that emotions are signals our bodies and brains send us to alert us – they are essentially an alert system to help us navigate the situation. Positive emotional experiences occur in situations in which people feel loved, cared for and safe. Negative emotional experiences tend to occur in situations where the perceived sense of safety is threatened, situations of loss, grief or the unknown.
It is important to validate your children’s feelings and to reassure them that they are safe, cared for and loved. Actively listen by rephrasing what your child says to you. Don’t rescue them from their feelings; help them tolerate the emotions. Label your feelings for your child until they learn how to do it. Practice deep breathing and mindfulness with your child. Talk about emotions being part of everyday routines. Be patient as your child learns to deal with their feelings.
Here are some conversation starters will help you discuss intense emotions with your child:
“Where in your body do those feelings happen? What kind of sensations do the feelings create?”
“What do you need in situations where your feelings get too big to handle?”
“What are the things that make you feel mad, sad, or scared? What are the things that make you feel happy, surprised or proud?”
Always remember to reassure them that they are safe, cared for and loved.
For more information on stress and for additional strategies check out MASK The Magazine Stress issue: