If you are a parent then you have faced the challenge of helping your child find ways to manage those big feelings that at times seem to over take them. Those feelings of frustration, anger, or sadness that appear to storm out of nowhere and take over your child. Often parents are bewildered by the behaviors attached to these feelings such as tantrums, yelling, crying, refusal, inflexibility, shutting down, or hitting.
Many calm rational parents, whom have read the latest parenting books, still struggle with helping their children through the maze of these intense feelings and out of control behaviors. What may be lacking in traditional parenting methods is a way to teach your children emotional management skills that speak to them in their own natural language. Creative thinking offers a way to do just that.
Children who are unable to regulate strong emotions experience “melt-downs”. Brain research suggests that “emotional hijacking” occurs when there is a flooding of electro-chemicals in the brain. Children who experience a stressful situation may become emotionally escalated due to the amygdala being flooded by peptides and hormones. However, neuroscience suggests that by using your cortex, the analytical part of your brain, you can self-regulate strong emotions. When a child is in a learning environment that elicits strong negative emotions this can impact their ability to hear or comprehend what is being taught. The inability to regulate emotions may lead to social isolation, poor academic outcomes, and low self-esteem. However, there is a link between positive affective states and cognitive performance. Thereby, suggesting a relationship between positive affect, higher productivity, creative problem solving, memory, and logic. It is also suggested that increases in dopamine released by positive affect promotes creative problem solving. Moreover, the research on multiple intelligences offers some insight into the different ways a child learns and why some children learn through trying things out by doing a hands-on project.
So what does that mean to the parent who just wants to help their child positively communicate and learn how to manage the big overwhelming feelings and out of control behaviors? It means that doing a creative and pleasurable activity may enhance a child’s learning. It also means that if a child is involved in a positive learning experience that is related to the way they process information, they may be able to learn and retain this information more readily.
Five easy tips to help your child use their creativity for emotional management: