Helping Dysregulated Children Cope
Caring for children who struggle with emotional dysregulation can be a difficult thing, as small incidents can often elicit prolonged tantrums. This doesn’t mean that a parent has “failed” any more than it means that an emotionally dysregulated child is “bad.” Emotional dysregulation is common in children, particularly those with ADHD or who are on the spectrum, and is often treated most effectively with therapy designed to give children concrete coping skills.
When dysregulated children are in the midst of a fit of emotions, being able to connect with each of their five senses, known as “grounding,” is one way to help them calm down. Having a small kit prepared with something to engage each sense, such as candy for taste and scented oils for the smell, in the case of an outburst can help.
Often, one of the most frustrating things for a child experiencing an emotional outburst can be communicating how they are feeling. Whether a child is very young, struggles with communication, or is simply too agitated to put words to their feelings, having another outlet to express their self can be crucial. Many children find it helpful to draw how they are feeling. Handing a child a blank piece of paper and giving a few instructions can help them to work through the tension and can help guide your conversation about what they are feeling when they are ready to talk.
Proper breathing practice is another concrete way that children can learn to cope with emotions. There is a reason that we take deep breaths when we need to calm down: the way that we breathe is intricately connected to our emotional response. For most people, especially children, when we are upset we tend to take quick and shallow breaths. This sends a signal to our brain to release adrenaline, which only amplifies emotions. Taking long, deep breaths has just the opposite effect. Practicing deep breaths with children who struggle with emotional dysregulation can be very beneficial.
If your child is struggling with severe emotional dysregulation Casa Pacifica can help. Reach out today and let us help you find the right treatment for your child:
Amended December 15, 2020