Start Early, Start Right
You have probably heard or read about left or right-brained dominance, where each side of the brain controls different types of thinking. A “left-brained” person is considered to be more logical, objective and analytical while a person who is “right-brained” is said to be more expressive, creative and intuitive.
The left brain is the “reasoning” brain. It controls the conscious mind, logic and reasoning abilities. It processes information systematically (one by one) but slowly and in small quantity.
On the other hand, the right brain is the “visualisation” brain. It controls the subconscious mind, imaging abilities and creativity. It has the powerful abilities to process massive amount of information quickly, and has great memory retention ability.
The secret to developing a child’s E-Q may still be illusive. However, we are aware that managing one’s emotions is a key contributor to one’s success in life, being translated into better inter-personal skills and a healthier self-image. As such, it is crucial to instil self-regulatory skills in children to develop his/her E-Q from young.
When a child reacts to an emotional stimulus negatively, e.g., by throwing a tantrum when his goal is blocked, what is happening in the child’s brain? What can parents do to help your child self-regulate emotionally?
The left frontal cortex of our brain is responsible for promoting positive feelings, while the
the lower part of the brain manages the physiological responses to emotional stimuli. When stimulated, the child will show extreme behaviours, such as losing his/her temper. At this time, it is needful to harness the control centre in front of the brain to regulate the negative signals received from below to regulate our emotions. Understanding the various parts of the brain and their functions will enable us to effectively reduce our children’s negative emotions by activating positive ones to balance them, which will have far-reaching significance to our children’s learning and relationship with others. Here are some useful tips to empower your child to regulate his/her emotions:
When your child feels angry or upset, instead of reacting by throwing a tantrum, teach your child to breathe in deeply through the nose, and release the breath slowly through the mouth. Do it till the child has taken control over his/her emotions.
#Tip2-Prepare a ‘De-stress’ Kit
Build the kit together with your child. Include the child’s favourite things and activities, e.g., toys/books/photographs; favourite activities, e.g., song/music etc., as mood up-lifters. Encourage your child to use them when feeling unhappy to regulate his/her own mood.
#Tip3-Practise problem-solving with child
Talk to your child and find out the cause/s for his/her unhappy feelings. Discuss workable strategies and practise them with your child, e.g., your child is upset because “So and so always snatches away my toy….”. Teach your child to tell the so and so, “I don’t like it when you snatch my toy. You can ask me and I shall share it with you.” As your child practises this, your child will become more skilful and confident at it.
When you work out strategies together with your child, you are teaching your child to be resilient in times of setback. Children thrive in a climate of trust through healthy bonding with their caregivers/parents/teachers. It is paramount for those caring for them to understand individual children’s love language/s and respond to them fittingly. Children need to hinge upon such reliable relationships to support and regulate their emotions.