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with Heather Gilmore, MSW, LLMSW, BCBA


Helping the Emotional Child (and Adult)

Emotional child with Stressed Parent/Mom
Emotional child with Stressed Parent/Mom

Every child, every person, is unique. Each child has their own unique personality, their own strengths, their own areas for growth, and their own particular character traits. Some children tend to be more laid back and adjust to changes more easily than others while other children tend to be more “higher maintenance” and can be quite sensitive in many different ways. Some children tend to be more emotional than others.

An “emotional child” may experience and express a variety of emotions more often and more intensely than other children. For instance, they may seem to get frustrated, irritated, overwhelmed, stressed, and/or possibly even happy, excited, or surprised more easily, more often, and with more behavioral indications of these emotions as compared to other children. The “emotional child” may experience all or just some of these emotions on a regular basis.

Teach “In-the-Moment Emotion Regulation” Skills

It is important for people to have skills that will allow them to manage their emotions in the moment in a healthy way. Some people, including children, tend to be able to do this better than others. However, some children have a more difficult time choosing the most appropriate behaviors when experiencing a particular emotion. To teach In-the-Moment Emotion Regulation Skills, talk about appropriate ways to act when the child is in a calm state. It is very difficult for a child or anyone to learn when their brains and bodies are in fight, flight, or freeze mode. When an emotion does arise, you can also help a child by encouraging them to select appropriate behaviors.

Teach “Bigger Picture Emotion Management” Skills

Bigger Picture Emotion Management Skills are skills which influence the overall well-being of the person that will also help them to have better control over their emotional experiences, as well. These skills include things such as feeling more self-confident, being less stressed, having good health, and having habits that benefit one’s health and wellness.

To help a child with their Bigger Picture Emotion Management skills, help them to satisfy their basic needs. For instance, ensure that all the needs (from the bottom to the top) of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are met. The top need (self-actualization) cannot be fully reached until the needs underneath are met.

maslows-hierarchy-of-needs1

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Image © Ili Liyana

In addition to the above pyramid of needs, it is also important to consider a child’s well-being from the perspective of overall personal health and wellness. How is the child experiencing all aspects of personal self-care and health including:

  • Physical Health
  • Psychological Health
  • Relationships
  • Learning
  • Play & Freedom
  • Structure & Control
  • Development & Growth

There will be more discussion about these concepts in upcoming blog posts. Please feel free to comment below with any comments you have about this article or the topics discussed, any questions you may have, or any information you would like to be mentioned in upcoming posts. Thanks.

Quick Tip: It is important to note that I am using the phrase “emotional child” to describe a particular type of child with a particular set of characteristics and behavior traits to simplify what I am trying to express in this article. However, labeling a child as an “emotional child” or with any other descriptor can have a negative connotation. When a parent or an adult in a child’s life begins to label that child as always being an “emotional child” (or any other descriptor), the adult may begin to view the child as only that and then begin to overemphasize and recognize the indicators that match with the descriptor rather than being open to when the child is displaying other traits, as well. It may also increase the child’s behaviors that coincide with the label, because the expectations of parents have great influence over a child’s behavior. Therefore, it is important to keep an open mind and not label a child in a constricting sort of way especially when it might lead to negative outcomes for the child.

Image Credit: © Ilike

Helping the Emotional Child (and Adult)

Heather Gilmore, MSW, LLMSW, BCBA

Heather Gilmore, MSW, LLMSW, BCBA. Heather is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Heather has also obtained a master's degree in clinical social work and a bachelor's degree in psychology with a youth services minor. Additionally, Heather is a freelance writer. Heather takes interest in topics related to parenting, children, families, personal development, health and wellness, applied behavior analysis, happiness, and life coaching as well as Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and other learning disabilities.Contact Heather if you would like to inquire about obtaining her freelance writing services.You can view her personal blog/website at www.hopefamilyresources.com and email her at hopefamilyresourcesllc@gmail.com.

 


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APA Reference
Gilmore, H. (2014). Helping the Emotional Child (and Adult). Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2018, from https://pro.psychcentral.com/child-therapist/2014/10/helping-the-emotional-child-and-adult/