Talking or Shouting over an emotionally charged child or teen escalates rather than defuses a situation. The response is either–fight (argue, scream or even become physical) or flight (shut down completely or run off). Also, sometimes speaking too passively might be misconstrued by your child as not taking their issue seriously.
**SO…….what is helpful?
Most kids need to know that you UNDERSTAND them and what they’re going through….that you GET their FEELINGS….(e.g. hurt, scared, embarrassed, rejected) or whatever has specifically gotten them to the point of their emotional reaction. So…..a genuine……strong….response, such as, ”I get it!” has power and can really help your emotionally charged child.
Here are a few steps/thoughts when this situation arises:
*First, MANAGE your own emotions…….remember intense emotions can be contagious……and we can easily jump on that train of anger towards the other person who caused these feelings in our child. Also the intensity of our child’s emotion can be upsetting in itself to us…..so we need to first MANAGE our own emotions so we can help our child by providing an effective and empathetic response. So (if you’ve read any of my posts….I always talk about breathing). One of the best ways to manage our own reactivity is to BREATHE………….this will help you to regain your own composure so your are calm and helpful.
*Next, help TALK /TEACH your child to “EMOTE” down….by calmly and authentically responding….“Yup….I hear you…that is really upsetting. I don’t blame you for being upset.” Hopefully, your child adjusts his intensity a bit more in matching to yours…..still strong but at a lower intensity…..your child may continue her recounting of the event but more likely at a lower intensity.
*Next, you REFLECT back…..” You are upset (or add feeling word)….and VALIDATE your child…..”you have every right to be upset..”. It is important that at this point that you don’t take sides or challenge your child’s views…….just LISTEN, REFLECT back the feeling and VALIDATE…by doing this you are letting your child know that you understand that something has upset her. Hopefully…your child then continues to “share”……but it is more likely that at this point…the emotional intensity is dropping;
Again, it is most helpful if you are always “under” the intensity of your child…helping him or her to drop their own intensity.
*Continue by responding something like, “It’s natural to get upset when people hurt your feelings….I get it!” Now, your getting closer to the real issue….but don’t discuss it until your child is fully calm and at a place where she is in control of her emotions.
Congratulations! You have “TAUGHT” your child “HOW” to self-regulate AND you have also “STRENGTHENED” your RELATIONSHIP with your child.
****Still need assistance? Call Suzanne at 973-658-7767