The most common emotions among the children in early and late childhood are anger, fear, jealousy, curiosity, envy, joy and grief. Emotions are intense during Childhood. Angry feelings are normal emotional reactions to daily stresses in life that range from irritated to enraged. Although any emotions may be heightened in the sense that it occurs more frequently and more intensely than is normal for that particular individual, heightened emotionality in early childhood is characterized by temper tantrums, intense fears and unreasonable outburst of jealousy. Much of the heightened emotionality characteristics of this stage is psychological rather that physiological in origin.
The current article aims to analyze the route cause for the emotional problems of the children which drive them to lose their emotions, discuss the rudiments of emotional management and also suggests few measures to handle the children’s emotional outbursts and to manage their emotions.
It’s natural for children to experience negative emotions like that of anger and anger itself is not that negative of an emotion if transformed. Only when repressed does it cause problems. Emotional outbursts in children are often triggered by frustration. They cannot understand their situation and they do not know how to change it. Helpless and unable to verbalize their feelings, they respond with emotions that are outburst. The negative emotions when repressed transform to the following four feelings that can be regarded as more dangerous. Contempt, jealousy, hatred and guilt however are very negative because they are emotions that are very difficult to employ constructively. All four imply stasis, inaction or reckless destruction.
Causes for the emotional outburst of the Children:
Most of the children feel that they are capable of doing more than their parents will permit them to do and revolt against the restrictions placed upon them. In addition they become angry when they find they are incapable of doing what they think they can do easily and successfully. Even more important, children whose parents expect them to measure up to unrealistically high standards will experience more emotional tension than children whose parents are more realistic in their expectation. ( Vishala, 2006). High and unrealistic expectation from parents will lead to emotional tensions and promote the feelings of anger among the children.
Emotional outburst among children can be associated with low self esteem, fear of failure, or feelings of isolation. It can be related to situations in which a child feels anxiety because they have no control over the situation (divorce, a move, family problems). In a young child, what an adult experiences as sadness a child may express as anger in situations like for an example loss of a loved ones, separation etc. (Compas, Bruce.E, 1988). Family and social environment is more significant factor in provoking or handling emotions of the child.
Emotional outburst in children often comes from stress. Stress is part of child’s life as much as its part of adult’s life.
There are other valid causes of emotional outburst in children that require immediate attention and perhaps even professional intervention; these are children who are angry because of family separation and child custody issues. Or they may be victims of sexual abuse or their anger can be due to rape trauma.
Children who were viewed as highly socially competent by their peers and school personnel were found to cope with emotions in more constructive, nonaggressive ways. Fabes and Eisenberg, (1992). The children when not recognized and rewarded for their achievements feels rejected and behave with anger. Another study of children's coping mechanisms for emotions examined responses toward anger occurring between adults but not directed toward the children (Cummings, 1987). Children may respond to adults' angry interactions by incorporating negative coping behaviors into their own interpersonal interactions.
There are several studies that focus on causes of children's emotional outburst. Covell and Abramovitch (1987) studied 123 predominantly middle-class children between the ages of 5 and 15. The traits of happiness, sadness, and anger were studied. The children were interviewed to identify causes of emotional outburst. This study showed that the children believe themselves to be the cause of their mother's emotions and their perception of "the family as an environment in which one is made and makes others lose control over emotions".
Not only the small children, even the grown up children desire to have their parents close by and to attend to their needs.Children are not able to comprehend why parents must have other preoccupations than them. The feelings of the child is likely to be that if mom and dad liked them, their parents would want to be with the children and this may lead to emotional reject. (Vishala, 2006).The only one child formula has caused certain problems for the child itself such as selfishness or not to able to cope up with other children because of lack of sharing and generosity between siblings. One child may have the problem of attension seeking. In the family where there is more than one child, the sibling rivalry is natural.
Two greatest causes for unhappiness in 21st century children are : psychological and physical rejection. Many children feel that they are not wanted and accepted by their parents. Another important cause of unhappiness in children are friction in family and the breakup of the family. In each and every case of seperation of parents, children are the victims.
Rudiments of emotional management:
The tantrums and emotional outbursts among children that are perfectly normal can be handled by parents and teachers. However long lasting and severe tantrums may be red flags for professional and medical interference.The feelings expressed out of uncontrolled emotions, if not managed properly may result in destructive emotions like contempt, jealousy, hatred and guilt that are very negative that may dominate the child’s personality and spoil the social development.
The child needs help when the emotional outburst becomes severe, if the child’s behaviour poses a danger to himself or others. Attention has to paid if the negative emotions in the child is sustained, persistent, rude, verbally abusive for more than an hour and if the child has performed the act of violence / physical aggression against others (Vishala, 2006). The child needs help when he outburst himself and when emotions turned inward through starvation , avoidance of friends and self mutilation. The child should be properly taken care when he is found to misbehave in school and have performance problem. Thus emotional management becomes unavoidable. Repeated episodes of sustained and explosive emotional outburst can signal the need for professional intervention. These severe episodes of emotional outburst among children may lead to the following serious behavioural issues:
Thus emotional management in the right time is very crucial to protect our children in falling prey to this problem. The secret of successful emotional management is to intervene early. Most children use negative emotions like anger because it is their only coping mechanism for daily stress (Fabes,Esenberg, 1992). By identifying problem situations and providing them new techniques for coping, we can keep the negative emotions bee from grabbing hold of children.
Suggestions to manage emotions among children:
Identifying emotions that is abnormal and intervening early is the first step towards recovery of the problem of anger. To increase children’s motivations to learn to behave in a socially approved manner, rewards serve the purpose of reinforcing the motivations.A loving family is a stimulating enivronment in which children have opportunities to use their abilities to the maximum and become well balanced individuals later in life. It is thus the family’s responsibility to see that their children have the four “A”s of happiness – Affection, Acceptance, Approval by others and Achievements which will encourage children to like and accept themselves. ( Vishala, 2006).
Reasonable and appropriate expressions of affection and recognition by parents and teachers such as showing pride in young children’s achievements and spending time with them and doing things they want to do will make them appreciate themselves as well as others.Parental acceptance of annoying childish behaviour and parental guidance in learning to behave in a socially more acceptable way lead children to be more self confident and earn self esteem. Eliminate toys and TV shows that encourage aggressive behaviour because children are great imitators. Parents need to censor the various programs which children watch. While TV at home opens a world of information and education to the young mind, uncensored and unguided viewing by the innocent mind can lead to serious mishaps that will have a devasting and sometimes lasting effect on child’s personality.
Disciplinary policy that is well planned and consisitently carried out by parents and teacher’s wil let young children know what is expected of them and prevents them from feeling that they are unfairly punished. Punishments must be given only when there is evidence that children not only know what is expected from them but when they willfully violate expectation.
Provide them favourable atmosphere and appropriate opportunities for creative expression through curricular and extra curricular activities. Many physical activities such as movement, exercise or outside play may help to ventilate emotions. Children can be given positive attention for behaviour that we want to reinforce.Reduce frustrating circumstances, donot make children wait for long, keep rules to minimum, and provide choices. Parents and teachers must be role models by handling their own emotions for the children as the child observe and imitates them a large. Remain calm when children display their emotional outburst or behave aggressively which has an impact on children’s emotions. Use a quite but firm voice to the child at the eye level.It is important to explain to the children when the parent is not able to spend much time with them because of work commitments.
Social Work Intervention :
School social workers, teachers and parent have a great role in the educational and personal development of the children. Children give great regard and respect for their teachers. For them, teachers are always correct and believe in whatever the teacher says or does. Therefore it is the moral responsibility of the teacher to set standards and manage the children’s emotions. Parents should trust their children with the respect that they would give to adult. It will boost their personality to act in socially approved manner. When negative emotions like anger and aggression is persistent, diagnostic and remedial instructions are helpful for children. The children who consistently have temper tantrums and other negative emotions, requires professional help from Social workers and counselors intervention to handle the emotional outburst of the children by following the preventive measures, corrective measures and Enrichment programs.
Lecturer in the Department of Social Work, Karpagam University, Coimbatore-21
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