There is no such thing as a carefree childhood. In fact, children are in an unfortunate position to feel particularly vulnerable. To help your child, you need to know your child. If you have more than one, you have to know each of them. Use these general tips and apply them to each child.
Give Words To Feelings
Help your child find the words to describe what he is feeling. Emotions, especially strong ones, can be very scary for a child.
Ask Your Child:
What words describe how he’s feeling: angry, sad, embarrassed? (For younger children, or those that have a hard time explaining emotions, use a visual chart.)
Where are you feeling it in your body: heart racing, headache?
What do you think caused it?: Help your child to think through what was going on right before the feeling occurred.
Keep The Focus On Him
When your child is distressed, give your child your undivided attention. This is not the time to be checking text messages!
Actively Listen: Restate what she said in her words, such as, “It sounds like you felt Becca was mean to you.”
Problem Solve: Help him develop positive actions. (“What do you think you can tell her tomorrow?”)
Know Your Child’s Triggers
Think about what situations are really hard for your child. Consider how you can change your [OWN] behavior. For instance,
Are mornings stressful for your child? Have them set out their clothes the night before. Make sure the backpack is packed and set by the door before he goes to sleep
Is it hard for him to put down his electronics? Make sure you set and follow consistent rules. Give a 5-minute warning before turnoff time.
Does your child have a hard time transitioning from one activity to another? Allow for some “downtime” between activities or even after coming home from school.
Know What Calms Your Child
Every child is different. What does your child do to calm down? Read a comic book? Ride his bike? Listen to music?
When you see your child getting upset:
Remind him that he knows the “secret” for how to calm himself down
Ask him if he would like to try one of the activities
Over time, he may be able to calm himself without your help.
Here are some general ideas that could help your child blow off some steam:
Elementary Age: Go to the park, ride a bike, jump on a mini-trampoline
Middle Schoolers: Listen to a couple of songs, talk to a friend for 15 minutes
High Schoolers: Go for a run, chat with a friend
Never Hesitate To Seek Help For Your Child
Hire a tutor for a subject that gives your child a particular problem
If your child shows signs of anxiety or depression, schedule an appointment with a counselor