Have you been facing situations, where your child becomes extremely emotional about something? Like crying their eyes out because there’s no milk in the fridge? And others when they seem extremely rigid about something else? Like insisting to wear flip-flops and go out in the snow, no matter what? I am almost sure your answer is yes! Here’s a perspective on what takes place when that happens and hopefully some strategies to work around it.
A child’s brain (and an adult’s for that matter) is divided into two parts; An emotional, artistic, creative, expressive side and another that is logical, literal, rational and analytical. These two parts supposedly work in harmony together and integrate to create a healthy state of mind that reflects on a child’s behavior. However in moments of stress a child will have the tendency to use one part of her brain over the other; if she over uses the logical, literal side she is more prone to become rigid in her way of seeing things and dealing with them and will in most cases be dogmatic and narrow on her perspective about a matter. However if she over uses the emotional side, this is when all the floods of tears and screams come from; so she becomes confused, chaotic and overwhelmed.
What’s important to note, that when one side of the brain is overused it tends to de-attach from the other side and with that creating a state of dis-integration. Another important factor is that in children and sometimes until the age of 25 their rational, literal, logical side is in a developing stage. While the other emotional, creative part of the brain; is well developed from the start of birth. Hence children are prone due to their developmental ability to have more emotional outburst and have difficulty dealing with their massive emotions in different occasions. So what do we do? How do we as parents’ help our children manage their emotions? Here are some strategies that worked with me and have been recommended by many experts in the field of child development and learning;
- Connection & Empathy; connecting with your child on how they are feeling at the moment, and let them know they’re heard and seen through their experience.This is a great way to support them re-integrate with the de-attached side
- Storytelling; give your children space to tell you the story of what happened over and over again, and while they do so fill in the gaps for them. When children are hyped their brain is prone to faulty logic, but when you enable your child to tell a story, you give them an opportunity to hear a different side and be healed from whatever pain they are going through
- Teach them about integration; Dialogue with your children about different ways to manage their emotions or manage conflict before it happens; counting, breathing and moving/removing themselves from the place where its all happening
- Be Conscious; though we can’t do that all the time, but learning about what triggers our children, enables us to explore opportunities to work around it as well as teach them about themselves – in doing so we also support their brain development and integration.
So next time your child is having tantrum, remind yourself about your new knowledge of the brain and work with the situation from that perspective.
P.s. If you like this post, i recommend you read the book "The whole brain child" by dr. Daniel Seigal. I've read a lot about the developing brain but this book is exceptional.
Marwa Advocates for freedom, peace, and building compassionate homes.