5 Tips to help with difficult emotions
I was having a conversation with some mum friends when one of my friends mentioned her daughter cried a lot. She often did not know what for – and as I am sure most parents can relate to, she was getting increasingly worried and so she wanted to find ways to help her express whatever was upsetting her.
Her child has no learning difficulties but it got me thinking about my own daughter. At 4 years old my daughter who does have a learning difficulty when asked if she is okay she will respond with “I’m good” every time. This is an automatic response and so does not give me a real idea of what she is feeling. She can sometimes be very tearful and I have no idea what is causing it – is she hungry? Is something hurting her? Has someone been horrible to her? – I just don’t know.
And although she is an exceptionally happy child I know she is not “good” all the time. She can be tired, frustrated, bored, angry, upset, frightened, excited, anxious joyful, playful…the list goes on...
But as her language is limited and her understanding of the question is also limited it can sometimes lead to times when I truly do not know how she is feeling…
The friend I was talking to spoke about her plans to try and tackle her daughter’s problem. This made me think of other ways that I could potentially help my own daughter acknowledge certain feelings as well as releasing negative ones.
1. Balloons – Who doesn’t love balloons? Well in this instance you can bring them to life by drawing an angry/ sad/ scared (insert negative any emotion) face on it – talk to your child about the feelings they are having, for example sadness and show them that the sadness now ‘going away‘ – the child could then release the balloon into the air. This has the potential to be visually powerful and may help them identify in letting go of that feeling.
2. Pictures –A highly visual and simple way to help your child express how they are feeling are using emoji faces and have them available for them to choose how they are feeling at that time. They can simply point at the appropriate feeling. Don’t worry if the understanding is not fully there to begin with…in time this will increase, especially if you use to describe how you are feeling.
3. Pooh Sticks – Another idea is a take on the Pooh sticks game – You head to a stream and gather some sticks. On each stick, you attach a little note with your unhappy note or picture and throw them into the water – you can then watch it be swept away downstream. Another visual way of “letting go”.
4. This is the idea my friend was doing for her daughter who is aged 7
– You get a box – perhaps a shoe box and you explain to them that whenever they feel upset or have ‘butterflies’ in their tummies they can write how they are feeling or draw a picture to try and express it.
Once done they then put it in their special box (leave the pen and paper handy). Explain that this is theirs and it is a safe place to express how they are feeling. At a later time or when you notice there are notes in there, you and your child can take them somewhere and “release the emotion” – Perhaps you could throw these away in the wind, or at a stream or into the sea or even burning them.
5. Turn that frown upside down
Now I read something by a fellow blogger the other day in which she said for every one negative thing said to us we need on average 7 positive ones to feel better. Now I don’t know about you but I have a great memory for negative thoughts and often struggle to think of positive thoughts…so here is a suggestion to use on our children after they have experienced a negative emotion – we give them a positive one to stick up so that they see these positive reinforcements regularly. Hopefully, they will see and read these and they will act as visual reinforcements of the great qualities they have.
I hope you like my list, I would love to expand these suggestions so if you have any please pop them below or drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org