Learning to help children deal with life’s challenging emotions can be difficult, especially when those feelings lead to behavioral meltdowns. Below are five tips for helping parents understand the emotional reactions of their children, and for working together through difficult times to make even the toughest of feelings more manageable. Keeping these tools in mind will assist you as you build the foundation for both coping and emotion regulation to strengthen your child’s skills throughout their lifetime. We have even included a few “bonus pointers” for parents as you navigate the storms!
Welcome to Our Blog!
This blog is written by the clinicians at Jonah Green and Associates, a mental health practice based in Kensington, MD that provides quality services for children, teens, families, and adults. It is intended as a resource for families who are seeking to expand their knowledge about mental health and mental health services, and also as a resource for families who are seeking quality mental health services, especially in the mid-Atlantic region. Please feel free to post questions and comments on any of the entries as well as on any topics or articles from our companion web site www.childandfamilymentalhealth.com.
When my kids were little, whining ranked right up there as one of my least favorite of their behaviors. I certainly struggled more with how to handle tantrums and worried more about school issues, but when my kids whined at me, it pushed my buttons the way other things did not. Like finger nails on a black board, it just got to me.
At this time of year I enjoy looking through the flood of catalogs and matching up items that catch my eye with people that I know. Rarely do I actually buy these things for them, but it’s still fun. There is one slogan t-shirt I keep returning to, but I’m not sure who would receive it in the spirit I intend. Maybe they would if I wrapped it in this blog. The shirt proudly announces, “I’ve learned so much from my mistakes, I think I’ll make a few more.” I like the reminder that our best learning comes from our own experiences and mistakes. Or as another favorite quote of mine, attributed to Mark Twain, says, “Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from bad decisions.”
“I don’t care!”
We all have heard it before—a child’s dismissive comeback, often in response to a parent’s concern. Discussions about children’s behavior and expectations are often stressful for parents; a child’s “I-don’t-care” retort can generate additional frustration, anger, and sometimes, self-doubt.
We love our children dearly, and they also make us furious. We may find ourselves angrier at the things our children do, whether they are two or seventeen, than we can remember feeling towards anyone else. And yet we know that forcefully expressing this anger rarely helps a situation. Feelings escalate, until everyone becomes more upset. Not much learning takes place. We tell ourselves over and over not to get mad, but sometimes the feelings well up and we feel helpless to our own explosion. Yet the level of anger we experience is directly related to the depth of our love and concern for our children.