How to Help Highly Emotional Children Deal with Big Feelings

How to Help Highly Emotional Children Deal with Big Feelings

Calendar-IconJuly 18, 2022  |  COMMUNICATION, Emotions
A dad and son talking to one another

Children and adults share the same world. What’s more, they share the same emotions.  


However, children often do not have the tools and strategies that adults must use to deal with difficult and complex emotions.  


Children of all ages will face traumas and pressures from the world. It is our job as parents to help our children identify, respond to, and process their more complex feelings.  


This job becomes very difficult when children do not respond to emotions the same way we do.  


This can cause unexpected outbursts, meltdowns, physical violence, and a whole mix of other negative behaviors.  


These behaviors, often labeled as rude, moody, withdrawn, angry, manipulative, aggressive, or combative are just the tip of an emotional iceberg. We as parents often have trouble looking beneath the surface to find the trigger points.  


Many kids have difficult and complex emotions that they cannot articulate. Keep reading to learn how you as a parent can help them process their emotions the right way.  


Learning How to Help Your Children Cope with Difficult Emotions 


When children feel difficult or new emotions, it can be hard for them to process and cope. These often occur when something confusing or uncomfortable occurs. In response, children will feel shame, worthlessness, anxiety, confusion, or fear.  


As a parent, you know your child best and are the best person to help your child confront these emotions.  


Here are some tips for finding the root cause of difficult emotions in your children.  


Consider how you can be most compassionate towards your child.  


If your child is acting out, it is likely because they are experiencing emotions that are too difficult to process.  


Ask yourself: how can I show my child compassion during this time? What is the most compassionate interpretation of their behavior?  


Treat your child with respect, compassion, and calmness when discussing their behavior and emotions and you are more likely to achieve a desirable outcome.  


Reframe negative emotions in more positive contexts. 


Instead of putting your children’s undesirable behavior in negative terms, try and refocus your thoughts and words in more positive contexts.  


Words like “attention-seeking” can be reframed as “connection-seeking,” “unacceptable” can be reframed as “understandable,” and “aggressive” can be reframed as “frightened.”  


Make sure your child knows that it is not you vs. them, but you and them vs. the problem. Knowing that you are their ally can work wonders in helping them face their emotions.  


Ask your child questions and let them talk. 


Sometimes the issue is that your child is not able to face their emotions by themselves. A structured conversation can help them come to terms with what they are feeling.  


Give your child space to explore their emotions through conversation. You can help by being curious. Ask them pertinent questions and try to relate to them through similar experiences you have had. 


This is a good time to suggest strategies, coping mechanisms, and other ways to face their emotions healthily.  


Ask yourself: 


  • What might be happening in my child’s brain? 

  • Do they feel safe and connected? 

  • What might be the reason for their emotional duress?  

  • What skills might they be lacking to respond more effectively? 


Try to answer these questions to have a more fruitful conversation with your child. 


Help Your Children Process Difficult Emotions with Child Focus 


Children often struggle with difficult emotions. As parents, it is our job to help them face their struggles and develop strategies to make emotional difficulties easier to manage.  


If you need additional help, Child Focus is a great resource for learning strategies to help your children cope with difficult emotions.  


At Child Focus, we offer early education, behavioral health, and education & training to help give your children all the tools they need to succeed in life.  


If you are ready to take the next step, reach out to Child Focus today!