Having a child is a wonderful experience, yet at times, when they throw a temper tantrum or incessantly crave our attention in destructive ways, we can find ourselves getting carried away with our children’s rollercoaster ride of emotions – which leads us to feeling less than balanced and stable within ourselves.
We often search for external solutions to satiate these internal emotions, for instance the Parenting Pod’s site highlights some great trampoline deals that we might look to solve our child’s hyperactive nature, yet there’s a good chance that your child can spend hours bouncing like Tigger yet still have tons of energy to scream and runaround.
The truth is, external things will often placate a child temporarily, but when the “shiny new toy” paradigm wears off, you are back to square one, and are creating somewhat of an addict in the sense that the child will need bigger and better toys each time to receive the same feeling of satisfaction.
Instead, it’s best to look at things from a more psychological perspective and find sustainable ways to deal with their emotional rollercoaster ride.
In that vein, the below article looks at three ways to help you cope with your child’s mood swings, but is not offered as medical or professional advice, indeed if your child’s mood swings and behavioural issues are severe it would be highly recommended you see a specialist to rule out underlying conditions such as ADHD and autism.
That said, one thing that shouldn’t be overlooked is the power your home environment has on your family’s emotions.
STEP ONE: VALIDATE
The most powerful thing you can do, is to listen and help your child feel understood. There’s a strong chance that your child is acting out in order to get attention – perhaps, using destructive methods to gain your attention, but their intention is often found in a desire to be “heard”.
Therefore, take the time to listen to their feelings and authentically endeavour to understand how they feel with regard to their model of the world. The last thing you would want to do, is to invalidate your child’s emotions by saying “that’s stupid” or trying to prove them wrong, or convince them they should feel differently.
Validation is about stepping in the shoes of your child, seeing the world from their perspective and accepting that their view is valid (even if you don’t agree).
STEP TWO: REFRAME
Sometimes, your child will make inferences from things that are unhelpful – for instance, they might feel that when Daddy leaves to go for work and is in a hurry in the morning, that Daddy doesn’t love them.
It’s therefore important to validate their view (e.g. “I can see why you might feel that way”) but then reframe the trigger so that they have a greater cognitive understanding of what it ‘actually’ means – as this way, it shouldn’t trigger them to feel abandoned.
STEP THREE: REASSURE
Once you have listened, validated and reframed some of their inferences, the next and final step is to reassure them; reassure your child that they have been heard, that their needs matter, and that this will be taken seriously.
You could ask a question such as “what would you like to happen” – as this is an empowering question that makes the child feel like they have some control.