Lisa’s mom sighed. Today, the family was supposed to visit Lisa’s favourite cousins. Lisa had been looking forward to the trip very much. Unfortunately, Lisa’s grandmother was coming to visit today at the last minute. The issue was not the grandmother’s visit. Rather, it is the terrible meltdown Lisa would be having later that her mom was not looking forward to much at all. Lisa would spend the day screaming and yelling that the world was against her instead of seeing it as a minor setback.

Many parents would put down such ‘diva’-like behaviours to be spoilt-rotten. However, some bright children tend to add a moralistic interpretation of the situation. Somehow, these children will feel grossly unjustified and thus pull others down with their harsh words – which will likely invoke such defensive behaviours from others as well. Another factor is that these children tend to hype up themselves so much so that they may have difficulty settling down after too much stimulation. At such times, they need strategies to cope with their feelings before they get out of hand.

Strategies to aid Your Child to Recover from Emotional Outbursts

Acknowledge Your Child’s Feelings

When your child adopts the defence mode, they are likely to become agitated and very upset. No words seem to be able to penetrate their walls. At this point, you need to acknowledge your child’s feelings in order to help them to relax first before they are willing to listen to advice. Sentences such as :

“You’re disappointed that…”

“You feel frustrated because ….”

“You are angry as….”

Some parents have the urge to solve every issue that comes the child’s way. If the problems can be solved easily, acknowledging the feelings of your child will help them to relax before they can move on to solve the problems by themselves.

RELATED: When Every Constructive Feedback Feels like a Personal Attack

Setting Limits 

Some children seem to rule the household in some cases. This happens when parents pander to the child’s every whim in hopes of not making them upset. If your child is stepping over the line, it is necessary to put limits on their behaviour.

Stopping Strategy 

If you child has  tendency to act impulsively, it will be a good idea for them to adopt a stopping strategy where they can keep a good sense of control over their impulsiveness before it happens. For example, they can cross their arms and squeeze tightly  when they can feel themselves getting cross. They can also sit on their hands to prevent themselves from moving . It may be good to discuss with your child the importance of leaving the situation temporarily to cool off instead of avoiding the situation. 

“I was just being stupid”

If your child has a tendency to dismiss his/her actions as being ‘stupid’ when you review their feelings after the incident, let them know that it has nothing to do with being ‘stupid’ but rather, an ability to cope with one’s emotions. Your bright child may be able to pick up certain skills very easily but handling frustrations skills will a lot of effort and practice.

RELATED: When Your Child Feels Betrayed all the Time

Ask “Can this be Controlled?”

Most people tend to blame external factors when things do not go their way. It does not matter if they are able to control some of these factors – they just feel as if they are overwhelmed. When your child is calm, it may be necessary for you to sit down with your child to discuss what factors can be controlled. The importance in distinguishing between controllable and uncontrollable conditions is that they require different coping strategies. When things can be controlled, your child is able to try new strategies and actively change the situation or ask for help. However, when the problems involve uncontrollable conditions, your child may need to learn on how to tolerate and accept what cannot be changed.

The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When the World Overwhelms Them by Elaine Aron
Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka
Freeing Your Child from Anxiety: Powerful, Practical Solutions to Overcome Your Child’s Fears, Worries, and Phobias by Tamar Chansky Ph.D.
Parenting the Highly Sensitive Child: A Guide for Parents & Caregivers of ADHD, Indigo and Highly Sensitive Children by Julie B. Rosenshein