Emotional Regulation & Self-Charting
Many kids struggle with emotional regulation. There is a reason some children overreact and end up yelling, crying, screaming, and throwing temper tantrums. Something happened, and the child most likely doesn’t know the appropriate emotional response. They are unable to regulate their emotions.
There are so many reasons for this behavior:
- A traumatic or stressful event
- Not feeling like they can talk about it or not having the vocabulary to talk about it
- Mixed messages from adults about whether or not it is safe to communicate feelings
- There’s so much going on they are unable to talk about it until something happens and emotionally they are all over the place.
How you can help
Try to track or monitor their behavior:
- What day, or time of day, do they usually get upset
- Are they tired or hungry
- Who is home or not home when it happens
- What activity was going on
- What was being said
- What happened at school/friend’s house
- Is there anything going on with the family
Did they overhear any conflict Start to see what you can do to reduce the emotional break downs:
Is there anything in the pattern that you might be able to fix or prevent?
- Can you notice the signs of when the child is getting upset so you can calmly step in?
- Can you encourage them to talk about what is going on, using their words as much as possible?
- Is there anything you are doing that inhibits their communication?
Here are some charts I created for your child to fill out.
My Emotion Chart (PDF)
1 is low or normal and 10 is very upset. In the circles they can draw the face that they have at each emotion stage. In the blank space they either write in what happens then they get upset or what level of emotion they feel.
Problem-Solving Chart (PDF)
Have your child sit down and think about their feelings and what made them feel that way. What was the problem? Was someone mean, did they not get their way, etc. Then they can list and think through possible solutions. It helps break down problem-solving into manageable parts.
These charts give your children the power to express themselves, while give you an opportunity to positively engage with them about their emotions.
It is normal for children to emotionally act out to some degree. If you notice a pattern to their behavior, write it down and see how you can help them. Encourage your child to talk about emotions: anger, sadness, frustration, etc. are all good emotions. It is their reaction to those emotions that matters. If you notice their behaviors intensifying or getting worse, or you find out there is a transition or traumatic cause to the behaviors, you should consider seeking child counseling.