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3 ways to influence children’s emotion regulation

How and why are we feeling emotions? What can we do about it? Emotion regulation is the management of the occurrence, duration and intensity of emotions. Children often depend on their parents to help them regulate emotions, because of their own limited cognitive capacities. So, parents are important in developing children’s emotion regulation.

 Regulating emotions effectively

Children’s effective ability to regulate emotions has been related to numerous benefits for their social and emotional health:

  • Maintaining successful relationships with peers and family
  • Academic success
  • Better mental health

 

 How parents affect emotion regulation

Parents can influence children’s emotion regulation through 3 different mechanisms:

  • Children’s observation of their parent’s emotion regulation. Children observe how their parents react to situations and model their parent’s emotion regulation.
  • Emotion-related parenting practices. Parents can use several strategies to learn their children about emotions.
    • For example, they can coach their children on dealing with emotions by solving problems, labeling emotions and comforting children.
    • Parents can also learn their children emotion-regulation strategies by helping them to shift their attention away from what is causing the negative emotion
  • Emotional climate of the family. A secure parent-child relationship and being responsive (supportive, accepting and sensitive to children’s needs) help children to regulate emotions effectively.

 Tips

  • Set a good example yourself. Be aware that your child will observe and model your ability to regulate emotions.
  • Talk about emotions. For example, label your own emotions and your child’s emotions. Explain your emotional responses in an age-appropriate way.
  • Coach your child on dealing with emotions such as anger and sadness.
  • Support your child. Listen to his/her concerns. Try to help your child regulate his/her emotions.

 

 More information

Morris, A. S., Criss, M. M., Silk, J. S., & Houltberg, B. J. (2017). The Impact of Parenting on Emotion Regulation During Childhood and Adolescence. Child Development Perspectives.

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