Lately I have been dealing with my son and his emotions. Fourth grade homework has been a rocky road so far as he has struggled with getting work done on time. Plus he has been sad this week because his mom left after her recent visit. So, how do I deal with a nine year old who is feeling overwhelmed by the world? Of course, with a lot of love, support, understanding, and mainly – great communication. The next time your child is having a bad day, try these four steps to comfort an upset child and work through the situation.
How To Comfort A Child Who Is Upset
Step 1. ASK QUESTIONS
Talk to your child about the situation. Ask them why they are sad and upset and get really specific. Keep trying to get to the root of the issue. The more details you can find out, the easier it will be to solve the problem. Let them explain their feelings in their words, their language, and let them truly share their emotions. Speaking of emotions…
Step 2. LET THEM BE EMOTIONAL
If they want to cry, let them. If your child wants to be upset, do not diminish their feelings. If they want to pout, let them sulk (within reason!) Children need to learn that it’s ok to show emotions, even sad or unpleasant ones. But us parents also need to teach them that there is a limit to how long they can pout and complain. Moving from genuine crying to hours of whining is not something that is acceptable. Showing and accepting emotions is healthy. Wallowing in those emotions for hours on end is not.
Step 3. IDENTIFY THE NEED
Ultimately you need to to figure out the “need.” Kids rarely say or understand exactly what they need or feel so, you might need to read between the lines and dissect the problem to find out what is really going on in the world of your child. They may say one thing but may be feeling something completely different. What does your child need that they are not getting. What do they need that will rectify the scenario? It could be simply helping them understanding homework or figuring out a way to fix their bike. It might also be something easy like the fact that they are hungry or tired. Or it could ultimately be that they need a resolution to a much deeper problem. Again, this goes back to asking questions and getting to the true issue behind their emotions.
Step 4. FINALLY – SOLVE THE NEED
Work with your child to find a solution for the problem. And a big key here is to guide them and help them find that solution on their own. This will give them a sense of power and control as well as a feeling of success. They will learn that their life is really in their own hands and they can choose how they react to stressful situations and tough times. We all know that kids tend to think every problem is “the end of the world!” but if we teach them that everything can be figured out and solved, then they won’t be as distraught every time something doesn’t go their way.
Being sad or upset is a part of life and some days just truly stink! But if you work with your child to accept and recognize their emotions, they will be much more ready to solve the problems of life – and they will take those lessons with them into adulthood.
And if your upset child can learn to work through their emotions as they encounter these smaller stumbling blocks now, it will also help them learn to deal with their emotions better when there are bigger stumbling blocks in life. An upset child, often just wants to be able to express that they are upset and feel comforted. It is important they learn it ok to express themselves but also that they learn coping tools to self soothe.
I hope you find these tips for how to comfort an upset child useful. If you have extra tips for how to comfort a child who is upset, please share in the comments below.
Rob Youngblood is a Single Dad, Keynote Speaker, Emmy Award Winning TV Host, Communication Expert, Life and Reality Coach. Learn more about him at youngbloodonthecoast.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.