Quick TipWhat to do When Emotions Get Intense

Ten Year Old Boy Rudely Poking Out His Tongue Emotional intensity is a huge issue in families of complex kids.  Sometimes it’s the kids who get intense, and sometimes it’s the parents!  Most of us have learned (the hard way) that it can get pretty crazy, pretty fast. 
So what do you do?

  1. Understand it’s normal – we all get triggered.  Some of us have shorter fuses than others, but when something triggers us, it’s an automatic response to lash out in reaction. That’s not an excuse for losing your cool, but a reminder that it’s human, and something you’ll want to begin to work on improving.

  2. Keep calm – for most of us, it’s really difficult to parent effectively when we are “over the deep end.”  Take a minute to reclaim your brain so you can think clearly. Take some deep breaths, drink some water, take a time-out – make sure you’re REALLY calm (not just pretending to be calm) before you engage. 

  3. Help your child calm down – If your child is melting down, switch your focus immediately from whatever caused the problem to helping your child calm down.  Continuing to argue about homework when your child is over the deep end isn’t likely to help.  Using a soothing voice and some empathy (I can tell this is hard for you…) can go a long way.  Having code words and routines that you use when anyone starts to get upset can also move a situation away from a potential crash. 

  4. Move to problem solving ONLY once everyone is calm It may take a few minutes or a few hours, but it’s important, whenever possible, to make sure that everyone is calm BEFORE you move forward. Partner with your child (as is age appropriate) to come up with a solution that will work for everyone.  Add in an ounce of humor, motivation and encouragement to get things moving again.   

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