Guiding kids through negative emotions

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Guiding kids through negative emotions

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So you know those times when your child is stuck on a negative emotion? They get upset about something and they just cannot move on. One of the things that we can do is help them get perspective. Trying to distract them doesn’t work so well in those moments, especially if they’re an older child – then they just feel like you’re dismissing their feelings, they feel like you don’t get it. So one of the things that can be so powerful is help them get perspective. And an example of this is my son – my 8-year-old – we were riding in the car on the way to school and he had found out that he wasn’t going to get to go to the ball game that he was expecting to go to. He was very upset, sad, disappointed, angry and could not turn the page. So I said to him, “Look at this windshield in our car. It’s full of spots. And that spot right there is how mad you are that dad’s not taking you to the ball game. And this spot right here is how disappointed you are that you’re not going to get a dodger dog and an ice cream. And this sport right here is how mad you think you’re going to be all day long. But this spot here is how much fun you’re going to have playing Harry Potter chase at recess with your friend. And this spot is how excited you are about going to the movies tomorrow.” And so, on and on I went. But basically, what I showed him is the feeling that he was feeling in that moment felt like he would feel it big and forever. What I did in that moment was allow him to take a step back and see this is a feeling I feel right now, but it’s one feeling I have among many, many other things that are going on inside of me and out in the world. And this was a really helpful technique in giving him some awareness that this was one piece of his world as opposed to his entire world.

Watch Video: Guiding kids through negative emotions by Tina Payne Bryson, PhD, ...

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Tina Payne Bryson, PhD

Psychotherapist & Author

Tina Payne Bryson, PhD, is a psychotherapist at Pediatric and Adolescent Psychology Associates in Arcadia, California, where she sees children and adolescents, as well as provides parenting consultations. She is the school counselor at St. Marks Episcopal School in Altadena, CA, and a Developmental Consultant to Camp Chippewa for Boys. She speaks to parents, educators, and clinicians all across the country. Dr. Bryson earned her PhD from the University of Southern California, where her research explored attachment science, childrearing theory, and the emerging field of interpersonal neurobiology. Her best-selling book The Whole-Brain Child (co-authored with Dr. Dan Siegel) gives parents practical ways to transform difficult moments into opportunities for children to thrive.  Dr. Bryson has written for a large number of publications, most recently the PBS series “This Emotional Life.”  She lives near Los Angeles with her husband and three children.  

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