Difficult emotions can be tough for anyone to deal with.
In fact …
Emotions can be like wild beasts ;-)
Sometimes they are right in your face, growling, and sometimes they hide, ready to pounce.
But … When we notice that we are, in fact, experiencing emotions, we can learn to focus, calm down, and reflect before we take action.
When feeling angry, sad, scared, excited, and even bored, don’t just feel it.
Naming the emotion is often enough to help you think more clearly.
Once the emotion is called out, we can zoom in to the physical to see how and where that feeling shows up in our bodies.
Before becoming outraged, for example, you feel tension in your body, your heart rate increases, and you either stop breathing or experience shallow breaths.
You probably feel like you’re about to explode. This goes for all intense emotions.
As we get better at detecting our feelings, we can more quickly notice when they’re present (or on the way) and decide how we want to respond versus just reacting without much thought.
I notice that I’m feeling anxious, so, in my mind, I say “anxious.”
Then I pay attention to my body and realize the discomfort in my stomach, the tightness in my chest, tension in my shoulders, and the whole heavy-headed feeling.
This is often enough to help me accept whatever is going on inside of me, and I can move on to do something to get a fresh perspective.
I could, for example, decide to stop and breathe mindfully for a minute.
In this one act, you and your child can break away from a stressful situation, even for a moment.
Mindfulness for Kids – Emotional Regulation – Name it to tame it
Purpose: Noticing and understanding emotions, Emotional regulation & intelligence
Best for: Ages 7+, one-on-one
What you need: Nothing
The way you can help your kid is to guide them through this simple activity when you notice them struggling.
1. Simply ask them to pause for a while and see if they can name the emotion they are experiencing.
Ask them how they feel—what it feels like in their body. Ask them what emotion that could be.
2. Then continue to discuss where it could lead if they weren’t aware of the emotion building up.
How being nervous can lead to stress building up, and how that could result in anger, for example.
It can be this simple to get in touch with your emotions and learn to detect them before they escalate beyond your control :)
I hope you’ll find this simple activity helpful!
You’ll find 150 playful mindfulness activities in my 5-star rated best selling book:
Activities for sensory awareness, focus, and calm
Activities for joy, gratitude, and kindness
Activities for emotional intelligence and regulation
You can find my book here: Ultimate Mindfulness Activity Book – 150 Playful Mindfulness Activities for Kids and Teens (and Grown-Ups too!)
I wish you many mindful moments with your kids :-)
If you are new to mindfulness with children OR you want to make practice easy we recommend our online courses: Get notified here!
Chris Bergstrom is a bestselling mindfulness author, the founder of BlissfulKids.com, a blog dedicated to children’s mindfulness, and a dad who is thrilled to practice mindfulness with his son. He is a certified mindfulness facilitator and trained to teach mindfulness to students in K-12. He’s also known as “the dad who tried 200+ mindfulness activities” and has taught meditation for more than 15 years.