Navigating Emotional Outbursts -Part 3

In the last article, we examined the work of Madanes and Robbins in their Six Human Needs model. With the help of resident Emotional Intelligence Strategist, Joanne Del Core, we were able to break down emotional development and what is consists of. This article will share some tools from Joanne’s work with over 300 children on how we can ensure our children’s emotional needs are being met and how to curb outbursts at home.

Based on her extensive work with young clients, Joanne has found that between the ages of birth and 5/6 years, children require two very specific needs including CERTAINTY and SIGNIFICANCE.
“What do you as a parent do to instill a secure, stable environment in your home?” Joanne often asks her clients. “What can you do to impose some order and keep things consistent?”
According to Joanne, there are 2 tools that parents can use to instill a secure, stable environment which in turn will reduce the number of tantrums and outbursts:

  1. Rituals & Routine: The core of discipline is to create a stable structure and ritual because that’s what imposes order in a home (i.e. sit down meals as a family, greeting and goodbye rituals). Children live for these things; they need and require it! The more consistent and regular an activity or event is, the less likely a child will react negatively to it
  2. Bridging: Another way to inject certainty into your home and family life is to put focus on the connection and attachment with your child. For example, put an emphasis on the relationship rather than the problem. When we say good-bye to our kids in the morning before work or at the school drop-off, many parents experience tears and the dreaded leg-cling! Creating a sense of certainty for our children, like saying “look for me at the end of the day” or “let’s do a fun activity when I get home from work” will often help create reassurance and result in less emotional outbursts. “The relationship is bigger than the problem,” says Joanne “and the connection with you (the parent) is paramount.”

What do you already do at home to create the need for your children to feel special and worthy of attention? How can we fulfill our children without entitling them?
According to Joanne, it may be rewarding good behaviour, one-on-one time, understanding their likes, etc. Here, Joanne shares some great ideas at incorporating more significance into your home:

  1. Replacing praise with acknowledgment: Think about how you praise your children at home. For example, reinforcing good behavior like cleaning up toys, you might say “I like the way you are tidying up!”According to Joanne, this puts the emphasis on how YOU are praising the child, rather than praising the child themselves. Turning praise into a positive acknowledgement rather than how we as parents feel about our children is important. Joanne suggests instead of saying “I like the way you are tidying up!” say something like “you are really helpful!” An acknowledgment fosters self-satisfaction and inner motivation and praises can imply a lack of acceptance and worth when the child does not behave as the adult wishes. Joanne also point out that this can be applied to adult relationships too!
  2. Questioning Style: The type of questions we ask our children can affect the quality of the conversation. Joanne suggests modifying questions to elicit open answers, rather than questions that will only prompt a “yes” or “no” response from your child. For example, questions that start with “do” or “is” such as “do you feel angry?” or “is that bothering you?” will only evoke yes or no responses. Be conscious of using open-ended questions starting with the word “what”. Instead of “are you listening to me” try asking “what did you understand?” or “what did you hear me say?” Joanne cautions that this will take some practice, but it will create a huge level of trust, comfort and expansive dialogue between you.

Son and Dad in hammock
Overall, Joanne has outlined for us some tools to allow for a proactive, open and nurturing environment in your home. Throughout their youth, children may become unruly or angry because they don’t have feelings of certainty and significance in their environment. However, as Joanne points out, the more you inject these needs, the more you will see their behavior start to change in a positive way. “We need to be emotionally available ourselves in order to be emotionally supportive with our children”, says Joanne. “So understanding what you need as a parent and fulfilling (yourself) will help to fill up your children’s tank!” For more information about Joanne Del Core and her work, please visit her website or e-mail her at [email protected].

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