Do you have a preschooler who gets upset easily and often? While some kids just “roll with the punches” at this age, others seem to cry for no reason and become very upset over little things. While sometimes it’s just a phase, it's also true that some children are more sensitive than others. If you are dealing with a sensitive child, here are some recommendations from other moms on how to understand and help.
1. Talk About Emotions
Small children soak in so many new experiences that outbursts over emotions they don't yet understand are inevitable. Have you ever asked your child what is wrong and heard: "I DON'T KNOW!"? The truth is, they often really don't know why they are so upset.
Circle of Moms member Dara S. recommends talking through episodes of crying that have no obvious cause: "We need to teach them the tools. . . to deal with their emotions properly and help them work through issues before they start keeping it to themselves." She feels that helping children understand "exactly what they are feeling and the reasons they feel this way" helps them throughout their lives. "My daughter and I talk at great length about what she is feeling when she breaks out in tears, and what she can do to help herself feel better."
2. Explain When Crying is Warranted
Desperate to stop the crying? Plenty of moms in the Circle of Moms communities are in the same boat with their preschoolers! Sam W.'s son went through a phase at 5 years old where he cried a lot. She was able to teach him to control it by focusing on the impact: "We sat down and talked about how his crying affected other people. . . . He then found a way of dealing with things. He still cries about the big things, like pain, but not the little things like someone being mean to him: he now has the ability to understand what warrants crying."
If talking through and recognizing their emotions doesn't seem to help, you may come to notice that the crying is more of a play on your emotions rather than their own. Tiffany O. points out that preschoolers are aware of how their emotions and actions affect adults, and may be using that knowledge to test you: "...this is a good time to try and explain how to handle certain things [and] whether or not crying is a warranted reaction. [For] falling and getting hurt, crying is acceptable. For not getting what they want - not acceptable."
3. Help Them Vent
We all need a sounding board sometimes when we get upset. This can be especially true for preschoolers as they learn to talk things out and let out emotions. Lisa K. found that her daughter's meltdowns usually boil down to her feelings being hurt: "When I try to tell her she is making too much of it she gets upset. The only thing that helps is when I apologize for whatever it is that is upsetting her. The mommy one-on-one works at home. This does not work in the middle of Walmart..."
Lisa goes on to explain a solution that she found works well during moments when she can't listen: "I now bring along a doll and tell her that when she gets upset and mommy is busy she can talk to her doll (Sophie) about it and when we get home she and Sophie and I will talk about it."
How do you deal with your child's emotions?
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