Please respond to two of the three questions presented below using the readings and videos presented in this module to ground your answer. Do not plagiarize, and cite appropriately.
Helping Children Learn to Regulate Their Emotions~
By Carolyn Webster-Stra.tton, Ph.D., University of Washington
Billy's Little League baseball team had won four games and lost four. On this particular day they were playing the best team in the league. It was a close game, but Billy's team was consistently ahead. The team was ecstatic. But suddenly in the last 10 minutes, the game turned and the other team was ahead by three points. The pressure was on! The pitcher for Billy's team became so anxious that he threw the ball to first rather than to home base, and the other team was able to get another player home. Finally, the other team struck out and Billy went up to bat, trembling. When he struck out, he was so mad that he threw his helmet onto the field. His father commented, "What drama! Can't he learn to control himself?" A second boy, Eric, struck out and stoically left the field, showing no emotional reaction. Jack and Ian, on the other hand, burst into tears as they realized they were going to lose. One parent yelled to them, "10-year-old boys are too old to cry! Don't be babies." Another parent advised, "Don't cry get mad!" As the team left the field in despair one boy said, 'Tm going to break their pitcher's leg." Later Billy explained to his father, "They were just lucky."
What is emotional regulation? Emotions are responses to
stimuli or situations that affect a person strongly. Emotional responses occur on three levels. The first – and most basic – level involves neurophysiological and biochemical reactions to stimuli, including all the bodily processes regulated by the autonomic nervous system: heart rate, blood flow, respira tion, hormonal secretions (epi nephrine, cortisol) and neural responses (EEG). For example, a person who is angry feels her heart race and her face redden. The second level of emotional response is behavioral, where emotions are expressed in a person's actions. This level includes facial expressions and
such behaviors as crying, sullen gazes, withdrawal from interac tions with others, and delayed responses. The third level is cognitive and involves language (whether spoken, written, or thought) by which a person labels her feelings as in, "I feel frustrated."
In the scenario described above, the emotional responses of the group of similar-aged boys reveal different levels of emotional responses to the same situation. Billy's trembling was a neurophysiological expression of emotion. Jack and Ian ex pressed their emotions through their behavior (tears), as did Billy when he hurled his helmet in anger. Eric's leaving the field was an example of withdrawal,
another behavioral expression of emotion. Still another boy expressed his feelings through words, revealing his cognitive response to the event. Children differ strikingly in their emo tional responses – in the fre quency and range of their emotions as well as the ways they express emotion. They also vary widely in the subtlety of their understanding of emotions (both their own and others), in the degree of pleasure they show when they share positive emotions, and in their ability to regulate or control their negative responses to frustrating situa tions.
Emotional regulation refers to a person's ability to provide adequate control over his or her
emotional responses (neuro physiological and biochemical, behavioral and cognitive) to arousing situations. The term emotional dysregulation refers to a person whose emotional re sponses are chronically out of control, like the child with conduct problems whose impul sive anger and aggression are so excessive that he cannot make and maintain friendships, or the child whose withdrawal from emotionally challenging situa tions becomes so habitual that she cannot enter into any new activities.
How do children learn emo tional regulation?
Just like walking, talking and toilet training, the regula tion of emotional responses is a developmental achievement which is not present at birth – i.e., it must be learned. The initial regulation must be pro vided by the environment. Picture the young infant who has a wet diaper or is hungry or is bored. She expresses her distress in the only way she can – through crying. The infant requires help from the environ ment to modulate her physi ological states and to reduce her internal tension. The parent plays an integral role in helping the infant regulate her emotional arousal: that is, the parent tries to understand the meaning of the baby's cries and then takes the necessary action to calm her. As we all know, some babies are more easily calmed and others are more difficult. This fact suggests that there are indi vidual differences in infants' ability to acquire self-regulation.
The transition period from infancy to toddlerhood is ac-
companied by maturation in the child's emotional regulatory system. During this develop mental period, the burden of emotional regulation begins to shift from parent to child. One of the most important develop mental achievements associated with the emergence of emotional regulation is the child's acquisi tion of language and communi cation skills. As children de velop language skills they become increasingly able to label their emotions, their thoughts, and their intentions. And as children become more able to communicate their complex needs and feelings, they can more effectively regu late their emotional responses. In part, this means letting their parents know what they need in order to be able to calm them selves.
In the transition from the preschool to the school age years, children begin to assume greater responsibility for their own emotional functioning, so that less parental regulation is required. Nevertheless, parents do continue to have a major role in their children's emotional regulation. During the school age years, emotional regulation changes to a more complex and abstract process; whereas in infancy it was primarily reflexive, guided by physiological discom fort, now it becomes more reflective, guided by the child's sense of self and the environ ment. Instead of the angry or frustrated child hitting someone or exploding in a tantrum, now she will argue with parent. Ins_tead of expressing his impa tience by wailing, he will be able to wait. Instead of expressing her excitement by running
around in circles, she will be able to talk about how excited she is. The extreme emotional responses of anger, distress, and excitement have been dampened to some extent by this age. Moreover, as children develop their own capacity for emotional regulation, the internal or subjective aspects of emotion become separate from the external expression of emotion (or affect). Thus we see the school-aged child who can be internally distressed by an event but outwardly express no sign of emotion. During adolescence, there is an upheaval of the child's emotional systems as hormones enter into the picture, challenging the emotional regulation which the adolescent has learned over the years. To the parents of an adolescent, it may seem as if their child has regressed to the emotional regulatory stage of a preschooler!
What determines how quickly children learn emotional regulation?
Just as there is a wide varia tion in the point at which chil dren start to walk or talk or learn to use the toilet, some children's neuroregulatory or self-regulatory systems develop at a slower rate than other children's. We know little as yet about the factors that contribute to these differences in timing. However, research does suggest that there are at least three processes underlying children's growing ability to regulate their emotions: (1) Maturation of the child's
neurological inhibitory system. The growth and development of the child's
nervous system provides the necessary neurological "hardware" required for the eventual control of emotions.
(2) The child's temperament and developmental status. Some children are more vulnerable to emotional dysregulation due to learning difficulties, language delays, attentional deficits or temperament.
(3) Parental socialization and environmental support. Differences in the ways that families talk about feelings (their own and others') are related to later differences in the ways children express their feelings and their growing ability or inability to regulate their emotions. Children who experience chronic stress in their envi ronment, or whose daily lives lack predictability and stability, have more difficul ties with emotional regula tion.
What can parents do? While we cannot change the
first two factors described above – a child's neurological system or temperament and develop mental status – it is important for parents to understand they can have a major impact on children's ability to regulate their emotions through the third factor, socialization and environ mental support. The following guidelines explain some ways in which parents can help their children learn emotional regula tion.
1. Provide as much stability and consistency as possible. Parents can support the devel opment of emotional regulation by providing environmental
stability and consistency in the home. For example, consistent limit-setting, clear household rules and predictable routines help children know what to expect. This in tum helps them feel calmer and more secure. If children perceive their home environment as a stable, secure place, they will develop the emotional resources to deal with the less predictable world outside the home.
2. Accept your child's emotions and emotional responses. It is important to remember that when children respond with emotional outbursts, these behaviors are not intentional nor are they a deliberate attempt to make parenting difficult for you. Accept the fact that it is normal
· for children at times to sulk, to respond by yelling, cursing or breaking something, or to want to withdraw and be left alone. While these emotional responses can be draining and distressing for parents, your patience and acceptance are crucial factors in your child learning to cope with his or her emotional responses. By "tuning in" and being under standing of your child's emo tional states you can help your child tolerate increasing amounts of emotional tension.
3. Talk about your own feel ings. One way to help children learn to express feelings and to regu late their own emotional re sponses is for parents to use the language of feelings with their children. For example, in the example at the start of this . article, the father might have said something like this to his son:
"I felt really frustrated to see your team lose after doing so well throughout the whole game. I feel sad that you lost. But the impor tant thing is you played a really good game. You guys were doing· your best and you were good team members – you all really worked together. I was proud ofyou. Next time maybe you'll win!"
Parents who frequently use the language of emotions to express their own emotional states and to interpret others' (nonverbal) emotional expressions – who talk about feelings so that their children learn to identify emo tions accurately and become accustomed to talking about feelings – are providing their children with a powerful mecha nism for emotional regulation. Their children will be less likely to·resort to behavioral expres sions of negative emotions. Research has suggested that children who learn to use emo tional language have more control over their nonverbal emotional expressions, which in tum enhances the regulation of emotions themselves. By using the language of feelings, parents not only transfer a useful coping skill to their children, but also show them how they cope with particular feelings. In contrast, parents who use language to intell~alize their emotions or to "talk themselves out of' a particular emotion will encourage the use of an over controlled coping style – their children will learn to "bottle up" their emotions rather than to regulate them.
4. Encourage children to talk about feelings – Avoid direc-
tives about feelings. The fact that children do not talk much about their emotions may be due not just to inexperience but to having experienced their parents' disapproval of the expression of emotion or of a certain kind of emotion. We saw this in the example above when the father told the children not to cry but to get mad instead. When parents give directives about emotional expression, children may find it difficult to stay in touch with their true feelings and therefore have problems regulating their emotions. Avoid statements such as, "Don't be sad," or ''You shouldn't be angry about that." Instead, label the child's feelings accurately and encourage the child to talk about the emotion: "I see you are sad about that: Can you tell me what hap pened?" As the child tells you about her experience, listen carefully without judging or giving advice. Sometimes it can be helpful to share a past experi ence that matches the child's. For example, " I remember a time when there were three men on base, two out and I was up to bat. If I had brought one man home, we would have won the game. I struck out. I felt ter rible."
It is important for children to understand that, just as one person likes broccoli and an other doesn't, people may have different feelings about the same event. It is also important for them to understand that a person may even have more than one feeling at the same time. The crucial lesson to teach children is that there is nothing wrong with any feeling; all
feelings are normal and natural. Some feelings are comfortable and nice inside while others hurt, but they are all real and important. We are trying to teach them to control their behavior, not their feelingJ. Be sure they understand that while it is not always okay to act on our feelings, it is always okay to talk about them.
The ability to talk about emo tions not only helps children regulate their negative emotions but also gives them far greater power to express affection and concern, to ask for and receive affection, and to achieve new intimacy in their relationships.
5. Model emotional-regulation. How do you handle your own
· emotions? Do you fly off the handle easily? or withdraw in sullen protest? Remember that along with emotional tension or overstimulation, another factor contributing to children's out bursts is modeling – i.e., expo sure to adults who themselves display outbursts of anger or frustration. As they try to mange their everyday frustra tions, your children are likely to imitate your example. You can help your child by verbalizing your emotions and your strate gies for coping. For example, if you are getting frustrated with that lawnmower you are trying to repair, instead of exploding in a torrent of swear words, you might say out loud, ''I'd better stop and calm down and relax a little before I continue. I'm so frustrated that I seem to be making things worse. Maybe if I get away from it for a while I'll figure out what it is I need to do." Or if you are disappointed
and angry because your boss let your coworker go the conference but wouldn't let you go, you might say, "I was disappointed she didn't pick me to go. It kind of made me feel mad because I wanted to go so bad. But mayoe next time it will be my tum – guess there isn't enough money for two to go." As always, it is important to model the kind of behavior you expect your child to exhibit. If you want your child to manage his emotions, it is important that he see you doing the same and that he see how you do it.
It is important to stay calm yourself when your child's emotional responses are escalat ing. Often when a child is frustrated or shows increasing tension and anger about some thing, a parent responds with additional anxiety or frustration. Instead, the parent should try to offer calm and soothing words of advice, perhaps even cuddle the child or stroke his arm or back. Such su·pport often can help children calm themselves enough to able to state how they are feeling.
6. Teach children positive self talk about the event. When children experience a negative emotion such as anger, frustration, fear, or discourage ment, often there are underlying thoughts which accompany the emotion and which reinforce or intensify it and may even be causing it. These thoughts are sometimes referred to as "self talk," although children will sometimes express them aloud. For example, a child who is feeling discouraged may say to you or to himself, "I'm just a
failure," " I can't do anything right," " I might as well give up."
In the example outlined at the start of this article, Billy and Eric react differently because they are telling themselves different things about the incident. If we asked Billy why he got angry, he might have said, " The pitcher didn't know how to throw a good ball." If we asked Eric why he didn't get angry, he might have said, '1'm no good at baseball – I can't hit the ball anyway." While Billy responds by blaming the other guy and Eric responds with negative self talk, in both cases they were caught up in negative behav ioral responses and negative emotions that might have been averted if they had said some thing different to themselves such as, '1 did my best, I struck out but next time I'll do better'' or '1 can do it, it just takes practice, everyone strikes out sometimes."
Research indicates that children whose "self-talk" is negative get angry more easily than children whose self-talk is positive. Children can be taught to iden- tify negative self-talk and to substitute positive self-talk. Teach your children how to counterbalance their inevitable frustrations and insults by saying quietly to themselves thoughts which calm them down, thoughts which help them control themselves, thoughts which put the situation in perspective. For example, when a child is teased by an- other child, she can stay calm by thinking to herself, "I can handle it, I will just ignore him. It is not
worth getting upset about. I can stay calm, I am strong." In the baseball illustration above, the parent might prompt his child to begin thinking this way by saying, ''Tell yourself, 'I played the game well, maybe next time our team will win,' or, 'We played a great game, someone has to lose, we are good sports.' " In this way children learn to regulate their cognitive re sponses, which in turn will affect their behavioral and physiological responses.
Examples of positive self-talk: ''Take three breaths." ''Think happy." '1'm not going to let it get to me."
'1 am not going to blow my cool."
"Everyone gets teased at times." "Everyone has parents who get mad at them sometimes."
'1 can handle this." '1 can calm down." '1 have other friends who like me."
"He didn't do it on purpose, it was an accident."
''Everyone makes mistakes. No one is that perfect. I'll do better next time."
''With more practice, I'll get it." "She's just in a bad mo~d today. She'll be better later."
"I'll calm down and use my brave talk."
"My friends still like me even if l make mistakes in baseball."
"I'll feel happier in a little while."
7. Identify typical situations which result in emotional explosions and use them as springboards to teach problem- solving. When children resort to emo-
tional outbursts, it is often because they do not have more effective ways of expressing their needs. Instead of reacting impulsively out of anger, they need to learn appropriate strate gies for getting what they want.
"Jr:ney can be taught to think through various ways of re- sponding to a situation and the consequences of those re sponses. These are the funda mentals of problem-solving.
The basic idea is to teach your child to generate several pos sible solutions to a problem. For example, if your son has an ongoing problem of getting angry with his sister when she gets into his things, you could · role play the situation with your son. Pick a time when your child is relaxed and ask some- thing like: "Suppose your sister has just taken off with your brand new bike and you and your friend had just arranged to go riding together. You find yourself thinking to yourself, 1 am going to really get her for this.' What could you tell yourself to help yourself calm down?" When he has an idea, be encouraging and ask for another. ''That's a good idea. You're right, she probably didn't do it on purpose, but she should have asked you first. How can we make sure she asks you first in the future? Now let's say you've calmed yourself down. What do you think you could do to solve this problem?" Once your child has come up with a solution, prompt him to come up with other solutions. When you are convinced that he has come up with as many solutions as he can think of, then you can help by offering other possible
r solutions. Next, ask him to think about the consequences of each solutions. For example, you can help him to understand that if he hits his sister in order to get the bike, he might get himself in worse trouble – and he might not end up with the bike. Finally, reinforce his thinking and problem-solving efforts with praise.
Helping children practice how to handle hypothetical situations which normally cause them to get angry helps children learn to control their anger in the future. Once they learn to anticipate such situations and have some strategies for dealing with them, they can take them in stride instead of responding impul sively. Here are some situations which typically provoke emo tional outbursts:
• scolding from a teacher or parent
•being teased by another child • being rejected by group of
children •being prohibited from doing
something by a parent • losing at a game •not being invited to a birthday
party • having to do homework before
you can play with your friend
Another strategy to teach prob lem-solving is to review a problem situation that has recently occurred, label the emotions involved, and go over how your child might have handled the situation differently. This will be a very worthwhile discussion as long as you do not blame or criticize. Instead, the focus should be on helping your child identify what she felt in
the situation and think of effec tive ways to manage her feelings and to solve the problem should it occur again.
Ask your child to role-play responses to these situations. Break the problem-solving process into these five steps:
1. Define: What is the prob lem and how am I feeling in this situation?
2. Brainstorm solutions: What could I do about it (no matter how far-fetched)?
3. Evaluate possible solu tions: What would happen if I did this?
4. Implement: Am I doing what I decided to do?
5. Evaluate results: How did it tum out?
8. Teach the "Turtle Tech nique." Teaching children to use positive self-talk and problem-solving strategies provides them with means of emotional regulation on the cognitive level. But it is sometimes necessary to help children deal with the neuro physiological/biochemical aspects of emotional arousal. For example, some children – or all children in some situations – may become so agitated with a racing heart and rapid breath ing that they have no control over their self-talk and cannot do the necessary problem solving; their physiological arousal produces cognitive disorganization.· While teaching your child positive self-talk will alleviate some this overarousal, the child may need additional suggestions for how to calm down first. Researchers have found that the "turtle tech-
nique" is an effective way for children to calm down and a good first step before engaging in problem-solving.
First the/child is asked to imag ine she has a shell, like a turtle, that she can retreat into. She is asked to go into her shell, take three deep breaths,-and say to herself, "Stop, take a deep breath, Calm down." As the child is taking these slow deep breaths, she is asked to focus on her breathing and to push the air into her arms and legs so she can relax her muscles. Some times we ask children to picture a particularly relaxing scene while they are in their shell. As the child continues this slow breathing she is coached to say to herself, ''I can calm down. I can do it. I can control it. I can stay out of fights." She is en couraged to stay in her shell until she feels calm enough come out and try again.
Model this "turtle technique" yourself for your children. For example, say you and your children have been waiting in line in your car for someone to move out of their parking spot. Suddenly, someone else dives into the spot ahead of you. You say, "I am so mad at him for taking my parking spot! I was waiting first! Oh well, better go into my shell for a while and calm down. Guess I better use
' my turtle power and take some deep breaths. . . Well, I feel better. I better think of another plan. Let's start looking for parking again."
9. Help children be aware of the stages in the build up of tension. The first "early warning'' stage of anger or negative emotion is familiar to every parent. The child grumbles, looks grouchy, sulks around the house. In the second stage the child becomes increasingly tense, restless, and moody; no matter what you suggest, nothing seems to satisfy or interest him. An explosive outburst may occur at the slightest provocation. The child may shout, curse, or even break something. He usually resists parental efforts at control at this outburst stage and may increase his opposition to anything the parent says. In the third stage, after the tantrum subsides, depression replaces aggression; it is the '1eave me alone" stage. The child is sad or placid and does not want to interact with his parents. In the final fourth stage the child is ready to re sume normal activities and may act as if nothing had happened.
The point for parents to inter vene with suggestions of "turtle technique" or calming self-talk is in the first stage. Often in this stage children do not perceive they are becoming angry or frustrated and therefore will not communicate these feelings until they emerge in a full blown tantrum. Therefore it is helpful in this early warning stage to encourage children to talk about feelings and to ex-
press their frustrations in so cially acceptable ways. You might say, "Something seems to be bothering you, can I help in any way?" If your child has difficulty expressing herself, you might try to put into words what you suspect the child is thinking and feeling. Parental understanding and concern at this stage can go along way toward reducing build up of negative feelings.
Another possible time to inter vene is in the fourth stage, after the incident is over. At this point, the parent can lead the child through problem-solving. Discussing the event helps promote better understanding in the child of why it happened and how he might handle it differently next time. The dis cussion should include how you and the child each felt about the episode, the causes and early warning signals, alternative ways to solve the problem in the future.
10. Use Tune Out for inappro priate emotional angry out bursts. Research has shown that Tune Out is an effective method for discouraging children's inappro priate behavior. When a child who has hit another child or has been destructive is sent to a Time Out spot, he is deprived of adult attention for the aggres sive behaviors. Children hunger for attention- even negative attention is preferable to none at all, and will reinforce the behav ior. Thus yelling at the child for his misbehavior or giving in to the child's emotional outbursts actually increases the likelihood they will continue in the future.
However, if there is no payoff for the misbehavior and if the parent withdraws her attention, the aggressive behaviors will subside – especially if you are teaching alternative respons
We are a professional custom writing website. If you have searched a question and bumped into our website just know you are in the right place to get help in your coursework.
Yes. We have posted over our previous orders to display our experience. Since we have done this question before, we can also do it for you. To make sure we do it perfectly, please fill our Order Form. Filling the order form correctly will assist our team in referencing, specifications and future communication.
2. Fill in your paper’s requirements in the "PAPER INFORMATION" section and click “PRICE CALCULATION” at the bottom to calculate your order price.
3. Fill in your paper’s academic level, deadline and the required number of pages from the drop-down menus.
4. Click “FINAL STEP” to enter your registration details and get an account with us for record keeping and then, click on “PROCEED TO CHECKOUT” at the bottom of the page.
5. From there, the payment sections will show, follow the guided payment process and your order will be available for our writing team to work on it.
Need help with this assignment?
Discount Code: SAVE25