Tears. Laughter. Screaming. Throwing. Crying. Giggling. Whining.
Our kids experience it all – sometimes within the span of a few minutes! Emotions guide our children’s behaviors. One simple strategy to help them calm big feelings is to name them. Clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA Daniel Siegel calls this “Name it to tame it.” Emotions exist to give us information. We can welcome all emotions without welcoming all behaviors. If emotions are welcomed and identified, they can begin to inform rather than overwhelm.
Research shows simply verbalizing our feelings activates the prefrontal cortex (the place of reasoning) and can have a therapeutic effect on the brain – lessening our sadness, anger, and pain.
One way to teach our children how to do this is to model for them.
“I’m feeling lonely.”
“That makes me angry.”
You can invite your child to name their own emotions or if they are old enough write them in a journal. Over time once our child’s brain matures, their experience in identifying emotions can help them to slow down, disengage from the feeling, and choose how they would like to respond rather than letting a flood of anger make decisions for them.