NOW that spring break is over and we can feel summer rapidly approaching, it can help to refresh on some parent strategies for dealing with difficult moments with our kids as school winds down and summer break is almost here.
Parents of school-aged children can experience a rise in difficult behaviors due to “summer fever”, sadness over spring break being over, and an eagerness for summer break while still having to manage grades and finish school projects. This series will elaborate some quick tips on what you can do:
FIRST, CONNECT WITH YOUR CHILDS EMOTIONS:
When your child is upset, the best thing you can start with is connecting to their emotions. Validating their feelings helps them feel heard and understood. You can do this by rephrasing and repeating what you hear them say is upsetting or frustrating them. Just listen and repeat, don’t try to fix the problem yet. Once your child feels connected to you by you understanding their feelings, they are able to be more in control and receptive. Then, you can help them understand what you can do together as a team to work on what is upsetting them.
SECOND, HELP TELL THEIR STORY:
When your child feels hurt, scared, or angry, they can feel out of control because they are still learning how to deal with those big emotions. As their parent, you can help your kids deal with these feelings by helping them tell a story. You can ask them what happened or what is upsetting them and use details that you know happened to describe the sequence of events. By telling the story of what happened with your help, they are able to make sense of it and feel more in control.
THIRD, ENGAGE WITH WHAT THEY SAY:
In high-stress situations, we often what to respond to what our child is doing rather than try to understand why there are doing it. As their parent, you can help them balance an overwhelming feeling by trying to engage with what they are feeling instead of letting their actions overwhelm you. You can ask questions about their feelings, repeat back what you hear them saying to confirm you understand, and then offer options for negotiation to stop their actions from continuing.
FOURTH, HELP THEM MOVE THEIR BODY SO THEY DON”T LOSE THEIR MIND:
When your child is overwhelmed by big emotions such as anger, frustration and sadness, you can help them regain balance by having them physically move their body. You can suggest that you play a game that makes them wiggle their body or dance around their room with them. Once they have shaken around a bit, then you can retry whatever task you want them to do or work together to solve what is troubling them.
**REMEMBER: No parent is perfect!! The best thing you can do for your child when they struggle is to be emotionally with them in that moment. By walking with them through their struggles, you will be setting the foundation for them to lead balanced and connected lives. If you need help implementing these strategies, Valencia Relationship Institute provides child and family counseling. We would love to help you and your child improve your relationship. Please give us a call at 661-259-8200.