Uh oh, here we go, it’s happening. Your child is frustrated because she is not understanding her school assignment. She is starting to yell in frustration and now everyone in the house can hear her. When she gets frustrated, everyone around her can feel it. Does this sound familiar?
When those frustrating times hit us, it’s best to utilize appropriate and effective coping skills to manage through it. These are skills that calm us down and help us safely navigate through the feelings of anger or frustration that we may encounter. It is especially important that we teach our children age appropriate coping skills to help them through times when they find it particularly difficult to control their emotions. So, what are some helpful coping skills that children can use during these stressful times?
- Imagery: Imagine you are looking at a picture. Ideally, this picture would be something calming, such as a tropical island or a beach. We are not just visualizing this peaceful place, we are taking it a step further. Imagine the sounds that the ocean is making as it hits the shore. Think about the smell of sun screen that one often smells on the beach. The goal of this exercise is to immerse yourself in a peaceful setting so that you ultimately feel that sense of calmness in reality.
- Deep breathing: There are many ways to accomplish deep breathing. Take a deep breath in, hold it for just a few seconds and breath out. Another approach is to draw a shape such a star. Follow it with your finger and let it guide your breathing. Each time you get to a “point” on the star hold your breath. Then slowly release your breath as you get to a line on the star. Attention becomes focused on your breath and may help in relieving those feelings of frustration.
- Teach your child how to verbalize how they are feeling: When you sense your child is starting to feel frustrated, encourage them to express how they feel. Ask your child questions such as, “how are you feeling at this moment?”; “What can you do to help calm yourself down?” Ask them how their body feels. This is also a good time, upon receiving answers to your questions, to validate your child’s feelings by letting them know it is ok to feel frustrated.
- Give your child something tangible they can play with when upset: Pending your child doesn’t have a history of throwing things, it may be helpful to provide a fidget item, or something soft and squishy such as play dough, to play with at the onset of observing frustration behaviors. By squeezing the item, you may be able to release tension associated with the feeling of frustration.
*This information is provided for informational and educational purposes only and should not be used to replace consultation with your doctor or qualified mental health professional. Always consult a mental health professional if you are experiencing symptoms and/or before making any decisions regarding treatment for yourself or others.