Some children are evenly measured, others are explosive. Often this is an inherent part of their temperament. You will often hear parents describe their child as “intense” or “an absolute roller-coaster” right from birth. As a parent of an explosive child, you may find yourself walking on eggshells to keep the peace, or conversely, in a constant state of conflict trying to calm your child’s devastating outbursts. It’s even worse in public because you know that the harder you try to quash the hysterics, the worse the situation gets.
In order to help explosive children develop emotional intelligence and self-control, we need to take them through a process of integrating their “emotional brain” with their “logical brain”. The logical brain is only fully developed by the age of ±25, so rationalizing with small kids is often counterintuitive. Focusing emotional awareness, however, achieves better results in the long term.
One way to practice integration is to draw an emotion chart. They can use faces, colours, numbers, or letters to represent their feelings. When they are feeling angry, sad, calm, worried, or joyous, show them their emotion chart and ask where they are. This action in itself helps to calm the child down by activating the logical brain and also helps them to move through the emotion. The child can see that although they are experiencing a big emotion now, there are other emotions on the chart too, which means the current state is not permanent, even though it often feels as though it is.
Note how the numbers below go from 10 straight to 90 on this Angry-o-metre. What does that tell you about this boy’s ability to control his anger? Would punishing him solve the problem? This is why it is so important for your child to be actively involved in designing the chart, as it provides you with a great deal of insight into how they experience their emotions and the world around them.
CPASA Founder, Owner: Best Behaviour