How Childrens emotions work


For the best outcomes for children and families we need to move decisively to build a society that is far more supportive to parents.

With more time spending it together, nurturing children, may well challenge parents - it should not exhaust them.

For the time being, when hard days, hard weeks or months lie ahead - it's important to remember that hard times don't mean that there's something wrong with us or our children. It is our reactions which influence the situation. Much like if a glass is half full or half empty, or being 'stuck' at home or 'retreating' into the home.

Part of what makes parenting both wonderful and hard is that children are a bundle of feelings.

Their joyful feelings makes our hearts swell with love.

However early in a child's life they develop a few beliefs that can generate big feelings, such as separation, sharing or siblings.

Children's feelings can spark a lot of emotion in adults. Parents feel that twinge, a slow burn or a blast of their own feelings to the surface. In the child's view, their emotion is something simple.

Your child thrives on the connection with you

Connection helps a child build intelligence and helps them use the intelligence they already have.

  • The Brain Stem

This is the self preservation centre of the brain, the child's reflexes, heart rate, breathing and other basic bodily functions. This part of the brain detects no threat s it is always telling the body that everything is okay.

  • The Limbic System

This is the social and the emotional hub of the mind, it is the feel good area! It is like an aura or radar sending out a stream of enquiry 'Is there anyone here to look after me, is there someone here who knows me'. It receives the information through non verbal communication such as eye contact, touch, facial expressions, tones of voices and body language.

  • Prefrontal Cortex

The reasoning area of the mind. also impulse control, short term memory and judgement. It is also the HQ area of the attention span. When the brain stem says 'there is no danger', the limbic system says 'good, there are people here who care', the cortex engages, lights up and the child can remember what they learn, develop new skills and judgement improves over time.

When a child feels connected

When your child feels connected they can concentrate on something that interests them. They will feel the warm attention you give and they can welcome new experiences, allow their sibling to play with their toy, try to ride their bike without stabilisers and try to read that new long word in their story book to you.

There are times when the connection will be broken - the invisible switch is OFF. This is when the prefrontal cortex has shut down the connection. The child may feel threatened, frustrated and just lost the connection.

You have seen this happen a number of times;

  • When your child has gone from being easy going to being irritated and whingy in just half an hour

  • Your child has been playing with their sibling whilst you have been doing a chore, you go and answer the phone in another room, then you return and they are falling out with each other.

There are tools and connection game plans you can tuck into your pocket in times of need. There are signals that will tell you when the connection is fizzling away. There are ways that you can show the child that the connection can be remade so balance and the middle way of parenting will return

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