Emotions are part of the process… so help you kids to deal with them

My son had a maths test at school recently which didn’t go as well as expected. Not only that, a few of his friends also gave him a bit of ‘banter’ about it. All good natured but he came home a weeny bit fired up. Hands up here. I jumped straight in to ask what he would do better next time before I let him deal with the emotions around what just happened. He did come up with some useful stuff but also focused his frustrations on other ‘unrelated’ areas and the conversation went rapidly downhill. Our conversation reinforced an important lesson. Help kids deal with the emotions around what happened before focusing on what they could do better next time. All good learning and here’s what I will do in future…

Once he’s finished going over what happened I will ask how he feels about it. If emotions are strong I will reinforce that this is normal and it’s OK to feel angry, embarrassed or disappointed etc. and ask if he needs some time to cool down. When he’s ready, I’ll ask him to think about why he felt that way, how these emotions could impact on what he does next (blame someone else, avoid subsequent tests, convince himself he’s not very smart etc.) and then ask about strategies he could use to manage his emotions in future (and make a mental note to continue to ask about how these strategies are going). Only after that will I have the discussion about what he could do better next time.

I would also (later!!) take the opportunity to ask how this would work in sport when you have less time to deal with emotions as the next ‘event’ (the next point, pass, tackle, shot etc.) can be on you very quickly. As sport is important to him this will be a crucial skill to develop as he trains and competes. And as a parent I can help him develop these skills by asking him good questions when he’s ready. With when he’s ready being the key.

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