Difficult Topics, Executive Functions Training, Great for All Ages, Stress Management, The Happy Student Podcast

#101 Emotional Control

It can be really difficult for kids to focus on school work when they’re having social troubles and yet sometimes we have to sit through class or study for a test even though we are going through tough times. We have to be able to control our emotions in order to get stuff done. Learning to control our emotions when it’s hard requires learning how to do that when our emotions aren’t out of control. Fireborn’s got 6 tips to help you help your kid control their emotions when times are easy so that they are easier to control when times are hard.

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Peg Dawson and Richard Guare state that you have good emotional control if you agree with the following three statements:

1.     My emotions seldom get in the way when performing on the job.

2.     Little things do not affect me emotionally or distract me from the task at hand.

3.     I can defer my personal feelings until after the task has been completed.

It can be really difficult for kids to focus on school work when they’re having social troubles, maybe they just had a fight with their friend or maybe they didn’t do well on a test and they feel anxious about it. Those anxious or sad emotions can get in the way of focusing in the current class. It can be distressing to have to wait until recess to talk to your friend to repair the relationship. It’s okay to have those distressed, anxious, sad emotions. It’s normal. It’s natural.

So, emotional control is not about not feeling emotions. It’s about recognizing that you have that emotion, but not letting it get in the way of you doing what you need to do. We do not want our emotions to control us.

Your child is feeling sad because their friend hurt their feelings. But he/she can’t always mend the relationship right away. He/she has to be able to get stuff done even though he/she is dealing with a lot of emotions. So how do he/she do that?

We need to calm down – but I would NEVER recommend saying that to anyone. Saying “Calm down” to someone invalidates their feelings, making them feel like you don’t understand, and so they get further enraged. So instead of saying, “Calm down”, we work on techniques for calming down, like meditation.

  • Practicing 10 minutes of meditation a day when we are already calm helps us to realize when we are getting agitated and need to meditate in other situations.
  • Finding an app like Calm or a CD or activity book for meditation like Sitting Still Like a Frog can help teach your child to notice when their emotions are overwhelming them and can give them strategies to calm themselves down.

Another technique you can teach your kid for calming down is to teach them how to realize when they are flipping their lid. Flipping your lid is one way experts use to describe what’s happening in your brain when your emotions take charge.

  • To describe flipping your lid goes like this…
  • Use your hand closed as a fist to represent your brain. Your palm is the “downstairs” brain – the emotional part of your brain. The downstairs emotional part of your brain quickly determines threats and reacts.
  • The upstairs part of your brain are your fingers covering that palm when your hand is in a fist. The upstairs part of your brain is the logical, problem solving part of your brain. So it works with the downstairs brain to figure out if there is really a threat and what to do about it.
  • When you are calm, your upstairs and downstairs brain are working together nicely to sort through your emotions and problem solve anything that pops up.
  • But when we get overwhelmed, we “flip our lid” – when that happens the fingers rise up and your upstairs brain is no longer connected to your downstairs brain. Your downstairs brain, your emotions, have taken control. And you can no longer think clearly and problem solve.

Then you teach them the trick to getting back to that brain that looks like a fist where the downstairs and upstairs are working well together – and the trick is to BREATHE.

  • Breathing out slowly cools off your downstairs brain and allows your upstairs brain to come back and work with your emotions. So each time you flip your lid, count how many breaths you need to take until your lid has come back down.

Exercise is also always a good option for getting your emotions back in check. There is something about using up all that anxious or angry energy that helps us to re-center ourselves.

Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg recommends that you “Blank it out” which means that you fill in the blank and write it out, dance it out, sing it out, draw it out, or whatever you want to blank it out.

Finally, to prepare for times when you know your emotions could get out of control, role play the scenario at home first.

  • Problem solve ahead of time so that when they get to the scary situation they are equipped with strategies to deal with their anxiety.

To summarize… to help your child develop emotional control:

1.     Meditate

2.     Teach your kids about flipping their lid

3.     Teach your kids the solution to flipping their lid: breathing

4.     Exercise

5.     Blank it out

6.     Role play

Resources:

Calm

Flipping Your Lid

Sitting Still Like a Frog

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode! Comment below or send us an email!

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The Happy Student Podcast

The Happy Student Podcast #90: Taking it Slow

Fireborn’s on a mission to help people slow down! The research shows being busy isn’t actually good for your brain and it’s not good for productivity. The research also shows that self-compassion, and not stress and negative thinking, is good for overcoming challenges and perseverance. What’s good is taking your time and teaching our kids to take their time. It encourages curiosity. It gives our brains time to be thoughtful and consider different possibilities. So it helps kids to start thinking analytically. And it teaches them to be present in the moment – to be aware of their surroundings and appreciate what is going on. Really good things! Fireborn’s got 5 tips to help you help your kids slow down.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT…

  • The research shows being busy isn’t actually good for your brain and it’s not good for productivity. The research also shows that self-compassion, and not stress and negative thinking, is good for overcoming challenges and perseverance.
  • So what does taking it slow mean? It means giving you and your family time to get from place to place and time to accomplish stuff without rushing.
    • Taking it slow means giving your child the opportunity to stop to pick up a stick from the sidewalk and think about it.
  • Giving your child the opportunity to consider those thoughts is a huge gift.
    • It encourages curiosity.
    • It gives their brains time to be thoughtful and consider different possibilities. So it helps them to start thinking analytically.
    • And it teaches them to be present in the moment – to be aware of their surroundings and appreciate what is going on.
  • If your kids are constantly rushing around, they miss that time for reflection, development, appreciation, and growth.

5 tips to help you help your kids slow down:

  1. Meditate together.
    1. Calm (a meditation app)
    2. Sitting Still like a Frog (a meditation book)
  2. Reduce the number of afterschool activities so that kids have time afterschool for unstructured, screen-free free time.
    1. Kids develop amazing skills when they play – curiosity, resourcefulness, and communication skills to just name a few.
    2. When kids are bored, they learn to think about how to stop being bored. It builds creativity and problem solving skills.
    3. It’s okay to do stuff after school. Balance here is just super important.
  3. Reducing the number of activities you’re racing to also gives you the opportunity to slow down the transitions and give yourself more time in between transitions.
    1. This provides kids with the opportunity to think more deeply about the world around them.
  4. Reduce the number of things you do.
    1. Your kids follow your lead. So if you are rushing around, prioritizing everything and stressing about doing everything, your kids will too. If you can be compassionate with yourself, really prioritize the things that are important and focus on just those, you’ll be showing your kids how to do it. Keep your time sacred.
    2. You are never going to “finish your work”. So yes, do some work, but also make sure you have time to do what makes you happy – those priorities. Find the time to slow down.
  5. Remind yourself that there will always be more stuff to do on your to do list, so if you don’t do what’s truly important now, you’ll be spending all your time working never getting to the good stuff. Taking things slow lets us get to the good stuff.
  • When you aren’t rushing from one activity to the next and being present in the moment, you learn to focus on what you are doing right then instead of constantly thinking about what you are doing next and preparing for that.
    • That helps kids learn to take their time doing their homework, instead of rushing through it and helps them to focus on one subject at a time. Giving kids time gives them the opportunity to do their homework well.
  • We always need a good balance.
    • It’s good to take things slow and live in the moment, but it simply isn’t practical to constantly live that way.
    • So while you are trying to slow things down, there will be challenges that make it hard – you and your kids need to take it slow, while also understanding that there is a time frame for things.
    • It’s worth trying to figure that balancing act out instead of just continuing to rush around. 
      • Talk to your kids about how it’s okay to take their time transitioning from school to homework, but in the mornings everyone’s a little slow and we have to get to school on time, so in the mornings they need to be more focused on getting out the door ready for school. 
    • Us adults also have to realize those cues for ourselves and take those times to be slow – to give ourselves the time to be slow. We have to figure it out so our kids can learn when to be fast and when they can be slow.
  • To not be thinking constantly about what to do next but instead be in the moment allows kids to focus on the task at hand. So it may feel like they are getting distracted, but it actually helps them learn to focus on one thing.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode! Comment below or send us an email!

HERE’S HOW TO SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW

Want to be the first to know when a new episode is released? Click here to subscribe to The Happy Student on iTunes!

Podcast reviews are important to iTunes and the more reviews we can receive, the more likely we will be able to get our podcast and important messages in front of more parents! I would greatly appreciate if you clicked here and left a review letting me know your thoughts on this episode!