The Emotional Rollercoaster, and Tips to not Fall Off
Life's confusing and hard for the best of us, so imagine what it is like through the eyes of your child. Use these simple techniques to empower kids with tools that will help them soar. As you read them, attempt to understand the thought process behind it; this will allow you to creatively adapt the techniques to your child and their world.
The overarching principle that underlies any successful parenting strategy is to have your double-whammy down...no, not Muhammed Ali style beatings...but being both loving AND firm! Kids will push the limits, they're designed to. Limits that push back ironically make the child feel safer. Let your word be rock, and your heart be soft. Don't flip flop between being liberal out of guilt or busyness, and then being strict out of low tolerance or a fear of not being in control. Smores wouldn't be delicious without the chocolate of love, and the cracker of firmness. A word of warning: this will probably cause your child's behavior to escalate at first - ride it out.
Incorporate the element of choice. "Land of the free, home of the brave" has been ingrained in youth (even those not from America!) Kids want to exercise their freedom of choice, and in doing so they learn how to become truly brave. When a child is not allowed to do something (for example: incessently tap their pencil), present them with alternatives instead of a bland no. "Instead of tapping that pencil, would you rather listen to music, or read this magazine?" Trick 'em into feeling like they have a dash of control (of course it's not a trick!) Again, it's the principle that matters.
And lastly, for now, teach them the physical signs of escalating emotions. When kids start to feel the symptoms of sweaty palms, clenched fists, and tight tummies, they recognize what is happening while there's still a chance to do something about it. By catching this earlier and earlier, they can learn to nip outbursts in the bud (along with your budding headache). Visuals help a lot.
Remember, childhood is a time of innovation, adventure, and expansion. Get involved in your kid's world - you may find that you're never without a child in your life again...because you've rediscovered your own inner child!