If your child experiences extreme emotional responses to small events, such as spilling their milk or getting touched, they may be experiencing emotional dysregulation.
Emotional dysregulation means that their brain has difficulty distinguishing between events and their severity. In simple terms, it means that their brain often equates all experiences such as spilling their milk or losing a significant game with the same seriousness putting their body into fight or flight.
While it can be challenging to remember when your child is in the middle of a tantrum, emotional dysregulation is not a lack of parenting skills or a child being disrespectful to you as a parent.
When a child is experiencing emotional dysregulation, your goal as a parent should be to help them understand what is happening and give them tools to calm down and refocus. The behavior skill of Effective Praise does just that as it allows your child's brain to pause and reset by acknowledging that you are present and that you are here to help.
While it may seem counterintuitive to give your child praise while throwing a tantrum as you don't want to encourage their negative behavior. Effective Praise refocuses where your energy is being placed and keeps you from being drawn into your child's fight or flight response. Instead of focusing on what they are doing wrong, which only adds to their fight or flight response, you acknowledge their emotions while giving them something good to focus on instead of the strong negative emotional response they are experiencing.
For example, during a tantrum, a child may pause to take a breath, sit down, lower their voice, throw something with less force, etc. All of those things are positives that can--and should be--acknowledge.
When parents use Effective Praise to deal with emotional dysregulation, they will see changes in how they respond and how their child responds to the situation.
You can find more about Effective Praise on SmarterParenting.com.
If you need help knowing what to praise your child for, our Parenting Coaches are here to help. Sign up for Parenting Coaching and we can create an individualized plan for you.