3-4 YEARS OLD

Your preschooler still throws tantrums be­cause she hasn’t yet learnt to reg­u­late her emo­tions. DR RICHARD C. WOOLF­SON shows you how to teach her to man­age them bet­ter.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - Contents -

If your preschooler still throws tantrums, teach her to man­age her emo­tions bet­ter.

Dur­ing a nor­mal day, your three-year-old typ­i­cally ex­pe­ri­ences a vast range of emo­tions, in­clud­ing hap­pi­ness, sad­ness, dis­ap­point­ment, frus­tra­tion, anger, laugh­ter, im­pa­tience and jeal­ousy.

All these in­flu­ence her be­hav­iour, but some­times, these emo­tions can over­whelm her to the point where she goes into melt­down.

Here are five ways to teach her how to han­dle the fre­quently-oc­cur­ring feel­ings in daily life:

Talk it out

Your child’s first reaction when she ex­pe­ri­ences a strong neg­a­tive emo­tion is to act on it im­pul­sively, per­haps by hit­ting or scream­ing.

Teach her how to use words to ex­press her feel­ings rather than to use ac­tions. At this young age, she re­sponds in­stinc­tively, so per­suade to think be­fore she does some­thing that lands her in hot wa­ter.

As soon as she pauses to re­flect on her emo­tions, her ten­dency to act im­pul­sively di­min­ishes. Re­peat­edly tell her “Think be­fore you act.” She’ll grad­u­ally learn how to man­age her day-to day-emo­tions more ef­fec­tively.

Teach pa­tience

Your child doesn’t like to wait for any­thing. A great deal of her daily tur­moil comes from her frus­tra­tion at not get­ting what she wants ex­actly when she wants, or from hav­ing to wait for her turn.

Ex­plain that every­one ex­pe­ri­ences mo­ments where they must wait, and that she should try not to get an­gry when that hap­pens.

Point out that her un­con­trolled im­pa­tience also af­fects those around. For ex­am­ple, tell her: “When you are im­pa­tient, you up­set the other peo­ple who are also qeue­ing in line”.

Sug­gest that when she feels she can’t con­trol her pa­tience any longer, she should turn her at­ten­tion to another ac­tiv­ity al­to­gether.

Get her in­volved

Sug­gest tech­niques that will help her be­gin to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for con­trol­ling those day to day emo­tions.

For in­stance, if you see that she is mis­er­able, ask her to think of things she could do to cheer her­self up. Talk these over with her un­til she comes up with one or two ideas, and then fol­low them through.

The more she thinks about do­ing some­thing to change her moods, the more she’ll gain con­trol over them. That’s a lot bet­ter than let­ting her be­come im­mersed help­lessly in her emo­tions – she needs to learn how to take charge of her­self.

Broaden her vo­cab­u­lary

At this age, your child has a lim­ited range of words she can use to ex­press her feel­ings.

But there are lots of ways she can de­scribes the same emo­tion, for in­stance, the feel­ing she calls “happy” can also be called “good”, “fun” or “great.”

The more words she has to de­scribe her fre­quent emo­tions, the more eas­ily she can talk about it to oth­ers.

So, the next time she tells you, say, that she is an­noyed, ask her to think of other words she can use to de­scribe that same feel­ing. Of­fer her sug­ges­tions. This also helps her get into the habit of talk­ing about her feel­ings in­stead of act­ing on them.

Dis­cuss em­pa­thy

She can also gain a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of her own feel­ings by con­sid­er­ing the emo­tions of those around her.

When she tells you about some­thing that hap­pened in preschool, ask her to tell you how she thinks her friend felt when that event oc­curred.

It may never have oc­curred to her that oth­ers have the same range of feel­ings as she does – kids this age usu­ally think only of them­selves.

This tech­nique height­ens her aware­ness of the emo­tions of other peo­ple, in­creases her em­pa­thy and sen­si­tiv­ity, and helps her man­age her own emo­tions as well as de­vel­op­ing her con­sid­er­a­tion for her peers.

Your child’s rst reaction when she ex­pe­ri­ences a strong neg­a­tive emo­tion is to act on it by hit­ting or scream­ing. Teach her how to use words to say what she feels in­stead.

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