― Dr. Bindu Kapoor - Counseling Psychologist
When you are set to read this piece, listen to the feel it offers, curiosity, boredom, happiness or embarrassed. Curiosity because it would add new to your knowledge bank, boredom for it isn’t your area of interest, happiness for this is what you have been looking for and embarrassed for it doesn’t sync with your style.
These are our Emotions, an integral part of human nature. They process the information about what we're experiencing and also direct us how to react.
Emotions are sensed right from infancy and expressed through gestures and facial expressions like pointing, laughing, babbling, crying, throwing etc. They differ and vary asper the situations and events. The recent experiences related to Covid 19pandemic has been one lifetime roller coaster of emotions for one and all across the globe. It covertly seems that all adults have been through tough times, experienced pain, anxiety and despair. But believe me our children irrespective of the age group have been no exception. This can be validated by their behavior, the mood swings they display, sudden crying bouts and tantrums they throw. The missing part is the Emotional Awareness.
I am quoting a meaningful research study here done at Spain sometime after the closure of schools due to Covid 19 pandemic which aimed at understanding how children they reflected and emotionally coped up with the crisis. A free association exercise elicited by the word “coronavirus” was done on 228 children age ranging between 3-12 years from the north of Spain. Content was analyzed by Reinert Method with Iramuteq software for lexical analysis. Result revealed that children signify the COVID-19 as an enemy which is being fought by the doctors. Fear and worry were two most common emotions displayed by the subjects mainly because they thought their grandparents could get infected because of old age and low immunity. This concern gave rise to third emotion, guilt. The lockdown condition also set in conflicting emotions like, nervous, loneliness, sad, bored, and angry, alongside feeling safe, calm, and happy with their families. These results suggested the need for government to also keep in mind children informulating policies related to alleviate the possible effects that they may suffer as a consequence of the pandemic and the lockdown. In short emphasizing the need to address the psychological, educational, social, health, and well-being needs of children.
Pediatricians, Psychologists, and Educators have been raising the serious concerns that this confinement may pose to children from both physical and emotional perspectives (Grechyna,2020; Jiloha, 2020; Léon, 2020; The Spanish Children’s Rights Coalition, 2020),stressing that it is essential that children understand what is happening in order to mitigate the damage that this situation may cause them (Dalton et al.,2020; Wang et al., 2020). However, no research has yet been conducted to explore the ways in which children integrate this coronavirus outbreak into their everyday thinking and how they are coping with the psychosocial impact of the crisis.
The main purpose of this blog is to bring to light that emotions can’t be helped post a situation, they are inevitable but the awareness if is created timely amongst kids can be extremely instrumental increating future generations with grit and resilience .
The following tips can help foster emotional agility among the children
⮚ Help the child identify and label the emotion.
Universal emotions like happiness, anger, surprise, fear, disgust and sadness can be discussed with the child as and when required. This would help him/her to explain his condition in a better way, the child would not feel helpless or alone. Naming an emotion is like a fence wall, a guard to keep one in a known territory. Train the child to say, “ I am feeling sad today” not “ I am sad today”. Unconditional support from the parent at this point also assures the child that he will soon come out of it, this situation is solution oriented or at least not with me for good.
⮚ Consistent Approach
The display of consistent response towards a child’s emotion would spare him to go confused and haywire. He would know what is right or wrong, good or bad right from the early years. For e.g., to address the child when he is angry the parent if has chosen to talk to the child calmly and not react, here the consistency is to follow this trick whenever the child happens to be angry might seem challenging at times but would pay high returns in the long run. Do not forget that children are keen observers and their mental storage is too huge.
⮚ Criticize the deed not the doer
While undergoing a negative emotion like fear or anger the child’s behavior might go out of appropriateness range, he might display aggression, might even throw Granny’s glasses. Parent’s response here can be a game changer, putting all the blame of bad behavior on the child would worsen his agitation and lower the self-esteem. While keeping the Child under the safe layer and blaming the behavior to be inappropriate would be a sigh of relief for the child. It would strengthen his understanding that the act of shouting, hitting and throwing are bad not me. The child would easily separate his identity from the gamut of not so good emotion. At least would be in a situation to listen, think and respond.
⮚ Avoid talking in public about child’s negative emotions.
Emotions not all the times are to be publicly staged specially the negative ones. As an adult I would not appreciate my husband narrating my recent anger episode to his friends. It would hit me hard, will be like a breach of trust. Similarly when care takers openly bust up unpleasant incidents openly the child is simply left embarrassed and helpless. Here the right trick would be disclosed to the child that even I(parent) go through rough patches and feels disgusted. Also ensure that such talks are absolutely secret between us. This would set a base of trust and faith towards a parent. Ignoring minor impulsive behaviors of the child would be a big respite for both, child and the parent.
⮚ It’s absolutely normal to have bad days in between good ones
A realistic picture of what life is doesn’t keep the child blindfolded. The bouquet of life also offers thorns amidst flowers keeps the child offbeat and practical. Also prepares the child to face challenges and deal with denials and rejections. A belief of the parent and by the parent that awareness of not so good emotion (negative emotion) can be converted to solutions oriented attitude after being in the emotion for a while. In other words it is highly recommended that being swept under the high flow of anger and agitation would only result in dysfunctionality.
As a parent, patience is the key ingredient to the entire journey of effective parenting but its super significant in pretext of handling children’s emotions. Impulsive harsh dealing on parent part do make them stubborn and hostile in the long run.
⮚ Structured Routine
All the behavior, responses and reactions consume energy. A wise investment plan of energy in a structured manner would spare little or no time for nasty behaviors.
⮚ Treat child just as a child
Often the parents tend to forget that child’s chronological age, emotional quotient and intellectual functioning is significantly lower than theirs. Big idealistic talks do not click them, they aren’t skilled at controlling their reflexes and are unable to comprehend the worldly tact's. Time span, experiences and parent support would gradually season them to fit in well here. In the meantime, parents can belittle more cautious and careful about their emotional wellbeing.
Ø Ensure that the child knows that you love him/her
There is no denial that parents love their child the most but it is equally important for the child to know that he is unconditionally loved by the parent. So, at times it becomes important to express your love and care in an overt manner, he gestures, words and body language are at times made loud enough to reassure the child.
Life be curvy or smooth, deep or shallow, high or low…. one thing is sure that we as humans have to be resilient enough to cope up the challenges and pave means and ways towards contentment and care. Emotions are the ice breaking units of this journey, lets consolidate with them and also enrich our offspring with our perseverance and positivity.
We are all fallible human beings with good and bad days: Dr Albert Ellis
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