My Brain Team Book: Mindfulness for Children

My Brain Team: What To Do When Emotions Run High is a therapeutic resource that teaches emotion regulation and mindfulness skills to children ages 6 and up.

My Brain Team: What To Do When Emotions Run High

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How can I help my child with emotional self-regulation?

A pretty common concern I hear from parents is that their child loses control over their emotions and can go from 0 to 100 very quickly. That is, they see that their child becomes overwhelmed, upset, anxious, and/or angry both easily and often over seemingly small things or situations. It is as if their child’s emotions have taken over (or have essentially hijacked their thinking brains) and there is no way to rationally talk to or reason with them. Parents often want to know how to help their child calm down and regulate their emotions.

My clinical approach is to first help parents and children understand what is happening in their brains. When our emotions, such as anger and anxiety, run high and feel overwhelming, we tend to react impulsively (as a way of coping) and without thinking things through. That is, for both children and adults alike, the same “fight-flight-freeze-faint” (4Fs) response is triggered when faced with any possible threat and danger (whether the threat is real or imagined).

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Anger Thermometer for Children and Teens

Like any feeling or emotion, the experience of anger is subjective.  What is clear is that anger causes distress and in turn leads to reactions and potentially helpful or hurtful behaviours to manage the distress.  The purpose of an anger thermometer (or any other feeling thermometer) is thus to be able to quantify and measure the subjective experience of distress to help create a common language that can then be examined, processed, and discussed.

anger thermomethers
Anger Thermometers for young children, school age children, teens and adults

What is an anger thermometer?

An anger thermometer is essentially a tool that can be used with children, teenagers and adults to explore and learn about this challenging emotion.  Just as one uses a thermometer to measure temperature, the thermometer serves as an indicator of the anger temperature or intensity of the feeling experienced within.

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New Resource to Tame Your Child’s Anger: The Tiger in my chest

The tiger in my chest

Anger is a difficult emotion for many children and adults to understand and to manage. While anger is a normal emotional reaction to a perceived or real threat, it can get too big and out of control very quickly. And among other things, anger can leave us feeling overwhelmed, confused, tired, empty, and lonely.

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Feelings Thermometer: A Helpful Tool for You and Your Child

cartoonnursebyiosphereWhen do you traditionally pull out the thermometer to take your child’s temperature? Perhaps when your child does not seem to be behaving like themselves, such as when they are more lethargic, irritable, or when your child feels hot to the touch, looks pale, or when they express they are not feeling well.

Depending on what the thermometer reads, your reaction will likely be different, right? Suppose you find your child has a high fever. As a parent, you may decide to immediately call the doctor, give medicine to lower the temperature, have your child take a cool bath, and rest. If the temperature is ‘slightly above normal,’ you may monitor the situation and take the temperature again. You may still keep your child home and give medicine but you may not feel it is necessary to call the doctor. Finally, if your child’s temperature is ‘normal,’ you may decide to simply continue with your child’s regular daily routine and reassess later in the day.

It is clear that the thermometer is a useful tool that tells us important information about your child’s current physical health. So now imagine applying this tool to measure your child’s feelings or current mental health state.

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Steps for Taming Your Child’s Anger

What is Anger?

character-kicking-shows-stress-and-anger

Anger is an emotional reaction to a real or perceived threat. Anger signals to us that something is wrong. Anger is a normal feeling we may experience when our personal DANGER alarms are turned on. Anger helps to prepare the body to “fight” when the “fight, flight or freeze” response of the autonomic nervous system has been triggered. That is, anger gives us the energy we need to right wrongs or combat threats. The problem with anger is that it can get too big and out of control very quickly. This is what happens when the little spark becomes a flame and then a raging fire. And, in general, it does not feel good in your body to be mad or to have someone be mad at you.

How we learn to cope with our own anger and teach anger management to our children is a different story.

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