When you think about “BIG EMOTIONS”, who does that term describe? Your child? Your child’s friend? Or is it you who are being referred to as a “drama queen”?
What is our 8th sense and why does it produce “big emotions”?
Our 8th sense is called Interoception and it is the internal sensory feedback that our brain receives from our body. This feedback tells our brain what is going on in this body of ours. It can be that we are hungry/full, need to go potty, and it could also be our emotions. When there are “buttons” that are turned on “too low or too high” - the messages we are getting from our body could be out of sync. For instance, a child might need to empty their bladder but their brain has not yet received the signal so the child is refusing to go. Their parents might notice the child is agitated, maybe hitting her sibling, the parents know she needs to go, but it might take a few more minutes before she realizes she needs to go and when she does - it will have to be NOW!
Have you heard the term “Hangry” before? It’s the same thing, the body might say “hey, I’m hungry”, but the brain does not realise it yet and so the child gets angry and only then realises that he is also hungry. To be able to self regulate properly, you need to be able to see the picture clearly, but that is very challenging when the messages you receive from your emotions are being “magnified” and therefore experienced as being much bigger than they actually are.
What do hormones have to do with it?
Our brain receives information such as whether you are hungry or not, need to empty your bladder or not - through the Vagus nerve. It receives information on feelings and emotions through hormones and neurotransmitters. When there is a problem with our interoception, there are some “bugs” in our “computer” affecting how the information in our system is processed, and when the processing of emotions is being “magnified”, the behavior seems to be that of “big emotions”.
So… what can we do?
There are different ways to approach “big emotions”. I look at it as though we have a computer (brain) and there are some “buttons” that are turned on “too high” (in the case of “big emotions” but some buttons are turned on too low like when you have to empty your bladder but can’t feel it until it’s almost too late). I instruct kids on which acupressure “buttons” they can use to address specific “buttons”. Other recommendations are to get a biofeedback app and practice the “stress muscle” daily. Mindfulness exercises can also work great for many kids, the key is to tailor the exercises to each child’s needs rather than trying something generic that could be a hit with some kids but a miss for others.
Some kids benefit greatly from martial arts as they learn to focus and practice self control. Other activities that might be beneficial: arts, cooking, gardening, piano, etc.
Communication is key
Often I work with kids that are havnig a hard time expressing their emotions. Bottling up anger, frustration, fears, etc could add anxiety and sometimes it all “explodes” as there is a limit to how much each of us can hold inside. so , instead of waiting for those meltdown episodes, we can actively promote communication. Schedule “special time” with your child and choose together something that works for the both of you. It is important to “build up” some excitement over it, so it’s not just something you casually do - it’s a big deal! Make sure your child knows you appreciate this time together, share this with your child, along with other things about your day, your daily life. The more you share - the more they will be able to “copycat”.
‘Let”s Share’ is a game that was created in order to provide a tool for emotional growth for kids and their adults. It’s a game you can incorporate into daily life as a fun bonding activity that will help your child learn how to share their emotions while learning from you - learning how to share and how to deal with different situations
Learn more about Sensory Balancing Technique Here
Disclaimer: Information and statements made here are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. The views and advice expressed in this blog are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.