Tips to Improve Emotional Dysregulation in Kids
How Can Parents Help?
Parents play an important role in helping their kids learn emotional regulation skills. We cannot prevent our kids from encountering stress in their lives, but we can teach them how to cope and build resilience.
Educate your children about the different emotions they may experience. Take special care to not label emotions like anger, frustration, or sadness as negative. Although we want our children to be happy, it is important for children to understand that it is normal to experience a range of emotions and that all emotions should be acknowledged.

Model your own feelings. Describe to your children how you experience emotions and what you like to do to manage them. For example, if you as a parent are feeling frustrated or had a difficult day at work, explain to your child what you are experiencing, and identify how you will take care of yourself: “Today I was really busy at work and didn’t have any time to rest. I am going to do a quiet meditation to calm my feelings down.”

Validate your child’s feelings. Show that you are listening and ask questions to ensure that you have a proper understanding of what is bothering your child and what he/she believes is causing the distress. Showing that you accept his/her feelings can help your child effectively cope and avoid explosive behaviors.

Teach your child coping skills. Coping skills are tools that kids can use to manage difficult emotions and situations. Learning positive coping skills is important so that kids do not adopt unhealthy behaviors, such as drug or alcohol use, when they become older. See below more some examples.
Coping Skills for Kids
When kids become emotionally overwhelmed, they often have trouble with rational thinking and problem-solving. Some of these coping skills can help them calm down so that they can engage in effective problem-solving behaviors, such as asking for help.
Labeling Emotions
Being able to recognize and identify an emotion gives kids more control by helping them communicate their needs.
Breathing Exercises
Controlling their breathing helps to calm down the nervous system and promote a relaxation response.
Mindfulness practice helps ground kids in the present moment, which can produce a calming effect.
Physical Activity
Exercise produces endorphins, which help kids feel good. Encourage at least 60 minutes of exercise daily.
Positive Activities
Whether it's reading, drawing, or something else enjoyable, this can help distract your child from negative emotions.
Listening to or playing music can promote calmness and positive emotions. It also fosters creativity.
Signs to Seek Professional Help
For some kids, especially kids with underlying mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, and Autism Spectrum Disorder, it may be helpful to seek professional help. Below are some considerations:
Your child’s outbursts are occurring past the age of which they are developmentally appropriate. It is not unusual for children under the age of four to have multiple tantrums or emotional outbursts that last about five to ten minutes every week. Most children will outgrow this pattern of behavior by kindergarten, but it is also developmentally expected that children will experience some emotional outbursts or tantrums up to the age of seven or eight years old.

Your child’s behavior is harmful or dangerous to him/herself or others. It is important to give our children the space they need to express their emotions. However, if their behaviors are physically harmful (i.e., self, peers, siblings, parents), it may be time to seek professional help.

Teachers or staff at your child’s school have informed you about disruptive behavior. As children spend a majority of their time in school, teachers can provide valuable insight about how your child is regulating his/her emotions and expressing feelings.

Your child’s emotional sensitivity is interfering with social interactions. You may you notice that playdates with other children often end in conflict, or your child is having difficulty making or keeping friends at school.

Your child’s difficulty controlling his/her temper or emotions is causing guilt or shame. All of the above factors can harm children’s self-esteem and ultimately make them feel badly about themselves. 
Professional Interventions
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a type of therapeutic treatment that helps people learn how to identify and change emotionally distressing thought patterns that have a negative influence on behavior and emotions. CBT for kids can help them develop emotional awareness, communication skills, coping skills for managing big feelings, and apply behavioral principles to foster meaningful change.
Parent Management Training (PMT)
PMT is a type of intervention where parents typically meet with a mental health professional without the child present. In these sessions, parents learn skills to deal with challenging behaviors more effectively. PMT strategies help parents and their children work together to identify the problem causing the emotional distress and mutually agree upon the steps or solutions to alleviate it.
*Additionally, there are times that medications are an appropriate consideration when emotional dysregulation is severe. This is always a difficult decision but should be discussed with an appropriate professional given the potential relationship between emotional dysregulation and many psychiatric issues. 
For more information, please contact us directly at (949) 891-0307.
Tips for parents