When a child becomes upset and shows it in what they say or do parents are prone to pay too little or too much attention. By over responding you are actually supporting the duration and recurrence of the negative behavior. By paying too little attention to an emotion that seems insignificant to you your child will feel you are disavowing their feelings and often become frustrated. Frustration often leads to a progression negative behaviors that are compounded by a sense of grief, anger, insecurity, worry or hopelessness over not being able to have something your child really wants. Remember, young children are not capable of separating wants from true needs. This takes time and will only occur with training and personal development. This personal development occurs in relationships based on responsive and sensitive attention and attunement. Being aware and attuned to the wants and needs of your child in various situations will allow you to understand her emotions. Your child will only learn to accept
feelings as real if you treat her feelings as real. Any other response teaches them to dismiss, disavow or simply mirror emotions without learning how to recognize, respond and grow with them.
Simple techniques can help a child calm down. these include any activity that supports relaxation. Choose what is best for your child based on her interests and her age and skill sets. Some children respond to reading or singing a song. Others respond to physical activities including dancing or going for a walk. Others require a short nap or
massage. Your response is not only for support. It tells your child you recognize they are upset and you want to help them learn to manage and respond to their emotions. Once the initial response is made you can move on to more solution-based responses based on the situation that evoked the emotion. You can always give her a list of possible responses and allow her to choose the best one for her. If she comes up with inappropriate solutions explain why a new choice will be needed. The goal is to return to an appropriate activity where the ability to handle unhappiness and dissatisfaction are recalled but remain in the background and the normal activity of life is emphasized.
By spending time with your child every day you will have the opportunity to play and laugh together. Be attentive and responsive to them. Listen to what your child says and how she says it. Is she happy or sad; mad or glad; or angered or surprised. Look for cues in her facial expression, body gestures, tone and pace of speech or any other verbal and non verbal cues. These experiences foster the sharing of emotions and are at the center of human relationships. Bonding and attachment during these periods provide the environment for the modeling of appropriate behavioral responses and expands the meaning of discipline from obedience to the modeling of behaviors that will last a lifetime.