How to help children cope with frustration
How do you react when your child is upset and frustrated? Do you feel the same way?
Imagine the situation: the child is not able to solve homework in mathematics. You spend 20 minutes explaining to him how to solve a problem, and he still says, ” I can’t do it.” Will you be upset in this case?
New research by American psychologists explains how the emotional state of parents affects the emotional state of the child.
A group of scientists from the University of California (USA) conducted an experiment in which school-age children and their parents took part. The essence of the experiment was that the children faced a difficult task. The researchers found that parents who remain calm in such situations can help the child cope with their negative emotions.
Electrocardiography was used to measure the emotional state of children. This allowed us to establish that children unconsciously feel the emotional state of their parents. As a result, parents ‘ emotions are passed on to their children.
During the experiment, each child, along with his parents, entered a room where he was asked to solve a complex puzzle. Parents could watch the process, but not help the child. In the second part of the experiment, participants were given five extra minutes to solve the puzzle, but now the parents could help the child.
The electrocardiogram data showed that the emotional state of the parents affected the emotional state of the child. However, this relationship did not work in the opposite direction: the emotions of the child did not affect the emotions of the parents.
This study forces a new look at the features of the manifestation of emotions in children and parents. The relationship described above between the emotions of parents and children is also called emotional attunement or mutual regulation. In the second stage of the experiment, she helped the child to overcome negative emotions and calm down.
From birth, a child’s ability to self-regulate is affected by how parents react when they are upset. If a child cries, and the parents tell him: “stop crying, “”do not pay attention” or “accept”, it is likely that he will still experience negative emotions. If you yell at him or make him go to his room and calm down, it won’t teach him to control his emotions. Rather, the emotional reactions of the child in stressful situations will be repeated and even amplified.
If the parents take the child in their arms when he cries, he calms down. Hugging the parents and showing sympathy from the parents help the child in this. Older children can be taught to Express their feelings with words. If parents ignore the child’s emotions or punish him when he gets upset, his reaction to stressful situations will only increase and become more frequent.
When a child is upset or crying, first of all, you need to stay calm. Take a few deep breaths – that should help. When you are calm, you can help your child: he unconsciously adopts your emotional state and calms himself. He feels safe.
When the child is older, you can teach him the ways you know how to calm down: breathing practices, positive thinking and verbal expression of their emotions.
Sometimes parents think that the child prefers to cry, scream and stomp his feet, rather than explain what happened. Most likely, the child has not yet developed enough vocabulary to Express their feelings in words. Such cases are a great opportunity to teach the child appropriate ways of expressing emotions. When the child is able to tell what he feels and what caused such feelings, you can teach him to solve problems and calmly accept certain situations, even if they do not like the child. The more time you take to develop these skills, the less likely he will have outbursts of negative emotions.
When the child learns to Express his needs, he will be able to respond to the needs of others. If you are always ready to listen to the child, it does not mean that you will always give in to him or fulfill all his whims. But he will feel that you accept him and are always ready to listen. So you can more easily teach him compassion, understanding of others and other useful skills.
Consider a few tips to help you control your own emotions:
1. If you’re upset about something, take a few deep breaths or count to ten.
2. Pay attention to any signals by which the child reports his emotions. These may be bodily signals, tone of voice, or words.
3. In a calm tone, tell your child that you notice his feelings. For example, tell him, “I can see that you are upset (angry, sad, etc.).”
4. Try to understand what upset your child. If you don’t know for sure, ask, “What upset you?”If the child does not want to tell, you can assume :” I think you were upset because the older brother did not share a toy with you. I know it’s a shame.”
5. To the youngest child, you can say, ” I’m sorry you couldn’t solve the math problem.” Then you can turn his attention to a simpler problem: “Let’s try another example. I’m sure you can handle him.”
6. With older children, you may have to persevere. Tell your child, ” I know why you’re upset.” Then explain why his desire is unreal.
7. In some cases, you just need to teach the child how to solve the problem.
8. Take the time to teach your child to control their emotions from an early age.