It is not uncommon for parents to worry about or be concerned by their child’s behavior, especially if it feels difficult to manage, causing distress at home, in school, and with peers. Children may act out for a variety of different reasons, sometimes it is caused by anxiety, learning issues, trauma, or other factors. Some children need assistance in learning how to manage powerful emotions, while other children may display behavior that may require help from a licensed mental health counselor.

What Is Emotional Dysregulation?

A child’s temperament, personality, and environment have a strong effect on their ability to regulate their emotions. Issues with the capability to control emotional expressions may present themselves in different ways depending on the child. Some children have a strong emotional outburst without progressively building up to reach that point, while others seem to have a bigger window of tolerance. Some children may internalize their feelings and other may externalize them. Regardless, children can learn to manage their emotional reactions with the use of effective tools, techniques, and strategies.

Managing Emotions With Self-Regulation

Self-regulation is the ability to manage your emotions in correlation with the demands of the specific situation. Self-regulation enables children to resist reacting emotionally to certain life scenarios, giving him or her the ability to calm down and adapt to the situation in a healthy manner. This skill set can help your child direct their actions and behavior toward a concrete goal, without being overly affected by unexpected occurrences.

How Does Counseling Help?

Counseling from a licensed mental health therapist can help teach children and parents self-regulation skills to assist the child in managing strong emotions more effectively.  By educating both children and parents about these skills, our therapists can give step by step instructions that help minimize behavioral outbursts. These skills and techniques can help the child take a step back from the situation in order to choose an effective response without reacting impulsively. The key to learning self-regulation skills is not avoidance of difficult situations to handle, but to coach and encourage children through these situations with effective coping skills, eventually enabling them to handle these challenges on their own.

Helpful Strategies

It can be beneficial for you to break down difficult tasks for your child. Parents often get discouraged when things do not go perfectly when attempting to help their child with skill-building. But consistency and beginning at a level appropriate to your child can play a large role in making skill-building a success.

For example, if you have experienced trouble with your child reacting impulsively or throwing a tantrum in a store or other public place, plan a quick visit when you do not need to do major shopping. During this visit, have your child walk with you, helping him or her to behave responsibly, and praising them for each success.

Is brushing teeth a problem for your child? Begin by focusing solely on applying toothpaste to the brush, responding with positive feedback and rewards when your child accomplishes this. Once your child has practiced this a few times you can add the next step to the routine. And the process should get easier as each progressive step is taken.

children brushing teeth

Is it difficult to get your child ready and out of the house for school? It can be helpful to break the morning down into manageable, simple steps. Getting dressed, having breakfast, brushing their teeth; each of these tasks are easier for children to accomplish when they are not thinking about them all at once.