Shifting a child's emotional state

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Shifting a child's emotional state

When our children are having a negative emotion, they are frustrated, they are angry, they are oversensitive, one of the things we can do is help them move their bodies. People think our emotions start in the brain, but actually our emotions start in our bodies. By the time your brain says, "I'm really tense and anxious right now, your body has already known that for a while." We can actually move this the other way around. If we can help our children with moving their bodies in a new way, we can actually shift their whole emotional state. A couple of practical ways to do this, if you have small child, you can ask them to pretend to be an animal poses and you can guess which animal it is. They actually will do some yoga poses to act out these animal charades. What you can do with older children is "keep it up." Blow up a balloon, keep it up and try and keep it off the ground or turn on music and see who can do the craziest dances. These are some of the things you can do to get them to move their bodies which can shift their emotional state. Additionally, if you have a child who is upset and talking to you, just grab a ball and start tossing it with them, while they are talking. They don't actually realize it right then, but you are actually getting them to move their body, which can help calm their emotional state as well.

See Tina Payne Bryson, PhD's video on Shifting a child's emotional state...


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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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