• Cheerleading statements
  • Replacing your self-defeating thoughts with cheerleading statements about your parenting ability can be really helpful during these challenging moments. Saying things like "I have what it takes to take care of my child, I will get through this, and If I can stay calm I can help my child stay calm," will go a long way in helping you and your child remain emotionally regulated.
    1. Know the triggers and vulnerability factors
    It also goes without saying that you need to be mindful of your own vulnerabilities and triggers as well as your child's. This may take some planning on your end when setting up routines and behavioral interventions that will ensure a more emotionally stable environment for your child. It may also be beneficial to watch out for the times that either one of you are hitting upon one of the four major vulnerability factors. This comes in the form of HALT- ask yourself, are you or your child Hungry, Angry , Lonely or Tired? If the answer to any of those are yes, rather take the time to address those needs to ensure that you are lowering the inevitability of an emotional outburst. It is my hope that these tips will give you the strength and peace of mind that is so sorely needed when parenting children with intense emotions. Good luck!  "/>
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    How do I deal with an intensely emotional child, while juggling daily duties?

    Question: I’m a mother of a large family including a child with intense emotions. This child often overacts and throws tantrums that are out of proportion. How can I juggle all of my responsibilities and remain calm when my child is emotionally dysregulated? What are some tips to remain calm?

    A

    Answered by

    Chaya Henchy Friedman, LCSW, M.A.Ed

    If you are a parent of a child with intense emotions, you and your family probably feel like you are walking in a minefield, not knowing where and when the next explosion will be triggered. This can be an emotionally draining and stressful reality for a lot of families. In addition, parents of emotionally intense children often find themselves under public scrutiny, recipients of well-meaning advice and in extreme cases, social isolation. Every outing becomes fraught with tension and even a simple trip to the grocery store can become a potential hazard for an emotional showdown.

    Now that we’ve established how difficult it can be to care for a child with intense emotions, let’s talk about some tried and true techniques to help you remain calm, while trying to de-escalate an emotional outburst.

    1. Self-compassion

    Kristen Neff, PhD is an associate professor in the University of Texas at Austin’s department of educational psychology. She has researched and lectured extensively on Self-Compassion and emotional stability. She is also the mother of a child with Autism and talks about what a life saver Self-Compassion was to her in her book, Horse Boy. She acknowledges that these emotional outbursts need to be met with a healthy dose of empathy and validation, but how do parents do this when their well of compassion has all but run dry? She goes on to say that actually a large portion of your attention needs to be spent on giving YOURSELF the compassion you need, so that you can muster the emotional stability to be a calming presence to your child.

    What does this look like in action?

    -When your child is screaming in the shoe store and you are frantically trying to pinpoint the source of his sensory/emotional overload, you need to first soothe yourself with kindness RIGHT THEN AND THERE.

    -When your 15 year old loses it at the family Chanukah party in front of everyone, and your well-meaning mother-in-law is gently telling you how to discipline your child, you give yourself the compassion you aren’t receiving from others.

    -When you are making numerous mistakes with your child, recognize that you are doing the best you could rather than flogging yourself with criticism.

    Dr. Neff goes on to say that self-compassion helped her cope, and put her in a balanced state of mind to deal with all her challenges in the most effective manner. She literally suggests gently placing a comforting hand on your heart and talking to yourself in the same way that you are supporting a dear friend. You deserve at least that much.

    1. Speaking Softly

    Now that you have calmed yourself down first, you should be able to speak in a softer tone of voice. This includes taking some deep calming breaths before you start talking (stop rolling your eyes. If you actually DO this it can really help you.) Make sure you are speaking slowly, and use a soothing tone of voice that will calm you and your child down

    1. Beware of your thoughts

    Be aware of the ineffective thoughts that will hold you back from dealing with your child in a skillful way. So thoughts like “he’s doing this on purpose, he wants to embarrass me, here we go again, I’m a horrible mother, why is every other kid normal except for mine, how will he/she ever get married?” You get the picture. These thoughts (even if they are true) will only increase your suffering during a crisis and decrease your ability to deal with the actual problem at hand.  Save these thoughts for later, or better yet, go practice more self-compassion

    1. Cheerleading statements

    Replacing your self-defeating thoughts with cheerleading statements about your parenting ability can be really helpful during these challenging moments. Saying things like “I have what it takes to take care of my child, I will get through this, and If I can stay calm I can help my child stay calm,” will go a long way in helping you and your child remain emotionally regulated.

    1. Know the triggers and vulnerability factors

    It also goes without saying that you need to be mindful of your own vulnerabilities and triggers as well as your child’s. This may take some planning on your end when setting up routines and behavioral interventions that will ensure a more emotionally stable environment for your child. It may also be beneficial to watch out for the times that either one of you are hitting upon one of the four major vulnerability factors. This comes in the form of HALT– ask yourself, are you or your child Hungry, Angry , Lonely or Tired?

    If the answer to any of those are yes, rather take the time to address those needs to ensure that you are lowering the inevitability of an emotional outburst.

    It is my hope that these tips will give you the strength and peace of mind that is so sorely needed when parenting children with intense emotions. Good luck!

     

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