Dealing with an upset child? You are not alone. As parents, we have all been there. Children will scream, cry and shut you out. No matter how hard you try you cannot understand why, let alone know how to handle the situation. The trick is to see what is beneath the surface and listen to what is not being said by your child.
Dealing with an Upset Child
Children have two main ways of expressing emotions they aren’t equipped to handle: tantrums or shutting everything inside and thereby you out. Either way, it is your job as a parent to try to find the root of the problem and help your child deal with their feelings. There are some key steps to keep in mind when dealing with an upset child:
- The child must feel like they are being understood. Even if you think their reactions are irrational or feelings are unjustified there is a reason they are feeling it. It is important to remember that all emotions are justified since they are felt all the same. Make your child feel safe and understood which in turn will lead to them being more inclined to open up, hopefully leading to you better understanding what is causing them distress.
- Don’t meet anger with anger or silence with silence. Your child’s actions are often a cry for help. They are trying to show you that they need something, granted it’s often not done in the clearest of ways. Take a ‘time-out’ allowing both you and your child to calm down. Think about what it is you want to express to your child and then express it in an objective manner. If the child feels attacked during ‘the talk’ it could easily generate another explosion.
- Don’t try to reason with an upset child. When the adrenaline is pumping your child is in an unreasonable state, let them calm down before you do the parenting. Trying to reason with them when they are in the middle of a tantrum is more likely to spark their flame further than calm them down.
- When it comes time for ‘the talk’ have possible answers to your question in the question. Children may not always themselves understand what it is that is upsetting them. In order to help them deal with their own feelings try presenting a question like this: “When you ___ earlier, were you really ___, or were you actually upset over ___?”
- Ideally, stop an explosion before it happens. Get to know your child and be able to read them. This is not always easy or even possible but if there are certain warning signs that signal a distress in your child try to solve the problem before it physically becomes one.
The key to dealing with and understanding an upset child is patience, understanding and remaining calm. Don’t let your child get away with unacceptable behavior but go about parenting in a smart way by following the tips above. Nothing shuts a child down or ignites their tantrums more than not being validated or not being heard. Dealing with children is like balancing on a tightrope. Remember, it is ok to make mistakes, you are only human too.