How would you describe the past several years?
I’d say “emotional roller coaster.”
Each day, I tackle the emotional turmoil in my household, and I would love to tell you that I have it all figured out, but I don’t … yet. But what I’m clear about is that the tools of yoga and mindfulness work (see story and video below). I’m not giving up!
Let’s remind ourselves that regulating our emotions is an ongoing process, not something that happens overnight. Let’s be gentle with ourselves with the emotional roller coaster that we are all living through at the current time. And take time to reflect on what’s working.
Using the saying that “what we resist, persists,” I’ve been thinking a lot about how to help children go through their emotions in a healthy way. Instead of blaming or shaming them for having big emotions, how can we help them move through them?
Below, you’ll find three ways to breathe, move, and express their emotions in the hopes that we can teach children different ways to embrace their big feelings. And these strategies work for us grownups, too!
3 Ways to Help Children Manage Their Emotions:
This is worth repeating again and again. I’m convinced that learning to breathe well will help us through this pandemic and give children the tools for a lifelong journey of health and wellness. Taking deep belly breaths helps to calm your nervous system, allows you to take a pause to clear your mind before reacting, and triggers the release of endorphins to help you feel good.
Help children identify their triggers and what makes them feel explosive, then encourage them to stop, take a deep belly breath, and be in the present moment.
Bronwyn shared this:
“My nine-year-old big-hearted, big-emotions son and I were having a talk about what he said and how he could have said it differently. (He was mean to me in order to try to get a laugh out of someone else—so his well-intentioned goal had a mean delivery or effort.) And in the middle of our talk, where I was trying to be encouraging because I knew he would be upset when he understood how his words where hurtful, he said, “Mom, I need to do my calm-down yoga. I am about to cry.” Wow!!!!! Earlier, he would have cried/screamed, been embarrassed for himself, hurt on my behalf, and beat himself up for hours to days. I was sooo proud of him and thankful to you. He calmed himself, and we were able to move forward within ten minutes and enjoy the rest of our night. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Imagine a world where children knew how to regulate their emotions, like Bronwyn’s son here. I admit that I’m both totally ecstatic for Bronwyn’s family, but also very envious that our family isn’t quite there yet. But knowing that it’s possible gives me hope.
For children who might benefit from moving through emotions, check out this Calm Down Yoga Poster that her son uses to help balance himself.
Our ultimate goal is to empower children to be in charge of their own emotional regulation, just like in the previous story.
See if you can set up a situation where children can share with each other what they do to calm themselves when they have feelings of anger and frustration. They could explain to one another about how they feel when the big emotions take over their bodies and where they actually feel the emotions.
You could initiate a discussion by having children look at a shaken-up snow globe (or mind jar), ask them to imagine that the glitter is like all of their thoughts running around their heads, and then watch the glitter settle—just like we can do to settle our minds.
The idea here is to facilitate children sharing ideas with each other and removing yourself as the “teacher”—it may not happen right away, but maybe over time. Or maybe you’ll overhear them.
Play this powerful “Just Breathe” video by Julie and Josh Salzman to hear how children are using their breath to help them calm down in challenging situations.
This is emotionally hard right now. But we’ll get through this, one day at a time, one breath at a time, one big feeling at a time. We can do this by coming back to the basics, breathing well, moving our bodies, and sharing our big emotions. Sending love and peace to you all.
As always, please let us know how we can support you during this time. If you have any special requests, don’t hesitate to reach out.
May we all be kind, calm, and safe.