Liza Hinchey is a Limited Licensed Professional Counselor (LLPC) in private practice at Trinity Family Counseling Center. Liza completed dual Master’s degrees in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Art Therapy from Wayne State University, and works with individuals, families, and groups across a range of presenting issues.
2020 hasn’t exactly been a year of structure and stability.
While the loss of these factors in our lives is difficult for everyone, it is perhaps even more of a struggle for children. In most cases, the foundations of their lives have been upended, which can lead to a lot of confusing emotions and few places to put them. If your child has been “acting out” more than usual lately, here is a simple strategy you can use to deescalate the situation and help them process their emotions.
The first and most important steps are to listen and validate what they are feeling. This helps your child feel heard and builds their emotional intelligence, so they are better equipped to respond to their emotions in the future. After asking about or interpreting the emotion your child is feeling, you could try some phrases like these to validate them:
“I can see that you feel *emotion* right now. Being *emotion* is okay.” “What happened that made you *emotion*?” “I would be *emotion* too if that happened to me.”
Once you’ve listened and validated, you will have created a much more productive space to then guide your child in the right direction behaviorally. You could follow up your validation by reminding your child that you love them, but you don’t like _____ behavior, and offering them some alternatives. This strategy will not only help reduce the behaviors you don’t want from your child, but more importantly, help them feel heard and supported.