What you see in behavior from your child is just the tip of the iceberg. Underneath are big emotions that can be hard to wrestle with for a child. Natural Strength Parenting™ can empower you to help your child understand what may be causing big outbursts by helping them identify what may be happening inside or ‘under the water’.

Intentional parenting, as part of the Natural Strength Parenting™ approach, means being proactive instead of reactive in your parenting. When your child present emotions, it’s easy to react to what you see and hear. But that may not tell the entire story. Why is your child acting sad? Or worried? Or angry? There’s something causing their surface emotions. Rather simply react to their emotions, try and figure out what’s causing them. 

Start by asking powerful questions. Instead of the ‘typical questions’ that will get standard one-word responses; “What’s wrong?” or “how was your day?”, ask your children more specific questions about their emotions. If they have recently heard or seen unsettling news, ask them what they think about the situation. Spending time actively listening to their answers to powerful questions can provide deeper insight into how your child is feeling. Sometimes your child may “flip their lid” and may not be able to answer you in a calm, logical manner. If they’ve already flipped their lid, remember what emotions may be lurking under the surface of the iceberg and respond with empathy. 

Once you understand what is causing your child’s expressed behaviors you can work with them to find ways to manage their emotions. Lean into their strengths (link to What Strengths Will You Use Today?) to help them positively approach their emotions. For example, if they are expressing anger towards a friend or peer, lean into their strength of perspective to help them understand the other person’s point of view. This can help them manage their anger and work toward a resolution. 

You can also introduce mindfulness to help your child cope. If they are acting withdrawn or shutdown because they are overwhelmed or anxious about their schoolwork, you can have them practice a mindful activity to help them redirect their anxiety. The S.T.O.P. activity can help your child stop, take a breath, observe their situation, and proceed with a calm, clear mind. Link to Characters video for younger kids, PDF for older.

Understanding what is really causing the emotions your child is expressing by being fully present in the moment with you can help lead to and healing. Share this with your child in a calm moment to spark a conversation and inspire understanding.