Managing Your Child’s Emotions in 3 Simple Steps



Dear YPP,

My 3 year old daughter seems to be going through a highly emotional period right now and I just can’t seem to help her calm herself down. When she is crying or screaming with frustration, I ask her why and try to talk to her but she just ignores me and gets even more upset. Please help.

Dear Mum,

Children who wear their hearts on their sleeves can be challenging to deal with, especially in the heat of the moment. I can understand your frustration here and thank you for reaching out.

First and foremost, in the heat of the moment you need to be able to remain calm so that you can be the anchor in order to help calm your daughter down during the emotional storm. In order to respond with the compassion and support that your daughter needs, you need to almost create a moment of space to reflect, listen for cues as to what is needed next, and that might be to simply take a deep breath and be there for her.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Viktor E. Frankl

I don’t know about you, but when I am upset, mad, frustrated, or emotional in any way, it always feels good to be supported, to have my feelings accepted and acknowledged and for my feelings to be validated.

In the heat of the moment, the last thing I need is to have someone try and “fix” my problem or talk to me about it! When that supportive person is there for me and just listens to my rant, I find it reassuring and calming. It helps me settle down and become grounded, logical and rationale again. I think that it would be fair to say that most people would feel similarly and in my experience, children are no different and respond especially well to this approach.

I like to use the acronym SAAV to help remind me of what to do in the heat of the moment or in the thick of the emotional storm. I refer to it as the “SAAVy Mom Tip”! Here it is:

S. Support

A. Accept

A. Acknowledge

V. Validate

To put this in context, I would recommend you practice this SAAVy approach with your daughter any time she is highly charged, crying and emotional:


Get close to her and if she is a cuddly type of girl, give her a hug or if not, perhaps lightly touch her arm or hand, get down to her level, CONNECT WITH HER and BE there for her


Then quietly say to her: “I can see that you are really sad right now, that’s okay. Being sad is okay.”


Wait a minute or so and then add: “I can understand why you are sad, I would be really sad too if I was in your situation.” Then just sit it out with her, connecting with her by touch or by holding her and letting her cry it out. Just be there for her.

The important message that we want to put across to our children is that ALL FEELINGS ARE OKAY. We want them to feel comfortable in expressing their feelings, feel that they can express their feelings and that doing so is healthy. Our response to them at these times therefore plays a HUGE part and, if positive during these moments of emotional turbulence, can really help them learn to recognize, identify and then regulate their emotions.

I like to think of this process as Emotion Coaching or training and we are their main role model and guide for this.

I find that this respectful, kind, compassionate and supportive approach is one of the best ways to help children calm down in the heat of the moment and deal with their emotions positively.

I really look forward to hearing from you as to how it goes. If you have any other questions regarding emotion coaching, please give me a shout. I also wrote a blog on “How to Build Emotional Intelligence in Your Child” last year which you may find helpful.

Partnering You