Charles is a very sweet little boy. He is just full of love. He runs on hugs, kisses and cuddles; these are what fuel his days. However, like most (if not all) 4 year-olds, he lacks the abilities to express exactly how he feels and the strategies to deal with his emotions when they bubble up.
Charles is also very intense and his emotions are always very close to the surface. He’s not happy, he’s elated. He’s not hurt, he’s near-death. He’s not sad, he’s heartbroken. He’s not irritated or angry, he’s (and please forgive the language) fucking pissed.
A couple of days ago, for instance, he completely lost it when I told asked him to get ready for bed. Because of the busy weekend, Charles missed out on naps and ended up going to bed later than usual, so I decided to have him go to bed a little earlier than usual. He was more than annoyed. He decided to show his displeasure by shutting the washroom door on his little sister’s fingers because she happened to look at him while he was pouting. Then, when I asked him to apologize, he completely lost it. He started screaming at me, kicking, hitting me and throwing things at me. I told him that I was going to let him calm down. He stayed in his room a good five minutes, letting loose primal scream after primal scream. After that, we were able to talk.
This time of the year is always very difficult. Income-tax season is difficult on everyone around here, but it is especially difficult for Charles. Every year, the weeks following the end of the month of April are difficult. Charles struggles with the the fact the he missed his dad during his 60 hour weeks. He struggles with the joy that he felt when his dad takes the first week of May off to spend with his siblings and himself and with the sadness brought about by his return to work afterwards.
I feel poorly equipped to handle his outbursts. We are always able to have a good talk afterwards. He is always able to tell me how he could have worked out his anger or frustration differently. I always repeat to him that I love him no matter what. That I love him as much when he is kind and happy than I do when he is angry, yelling and throwing things at me. I know better than to try to talk to him when he’s out of control, but I lack the tools to help him manage his emotions in the short lapse of time that occurs between frustration and utter meltdown.
How do you go about helping your little ones manage overwhelming emotions?