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Finding Triggers

In so many was knowledge is power, but when it comes to managing our emotions, knowledge is vital. Emotions can be mysterious, they seem to pop up from nowhere or overtake us dramatically. But there is always a reason for these emotions and when we start to understand our triggers we can plan for how to manage them. This is a skill many adults are still learning, however the sooner we give our kids the skills to do this the easier they will find managing their emotions.

When we are aware of what will trigger our anger, we can see it coming. The emotion not only makes sense but it become manageable. Talking about triggers ahead of time gives the child a chance to see the situation without the rush of emotion. They can think clearly and see if their response fits the situation.

When we talk to our children about triggers it is important to do it when they are calm. There is no point saying "you always get angry when you loose" right when they are throwing their bat and ball. Find a time to talk about what makes them angry? What pushes their buttons? I like to draw buttons of all different sizes on a piece of paper.

Then write on the buttons what their triggers are.

Small buttons for things that only trigger them a little, and big buttons for the things that get them really angry.

Think of as many triggers as you can. Remember not to be judgmental, this is not the time to correct them, all you want to do is find out what is triggering their anger. If they don't agree with a suggestion you make, don't push it. Chances are you are just pushing a button. Work with what you have, you can always add to it later. It can help to keep a weekly tracker of when they got angry and what triggered it.

Just drawing up a simple chart to track what has happened during the week. This is particularly helpful if they are having trouble thinking of what makes them angry. Much easier to talk about what the trigger was soon after the event than trying to think of every trigger at once. Use an anger scale to determine how much of a trigger it was.

Sometimes just realising what the triggers is enough to help manage the emotion. It gives the emotion meaning rather than just this uncontrollable rage. But for the most part, once we know what the triggers are we need to have a plan for how to manage them.

Go through each trigger and brainstorm what they could do in that situation to manage their trigger better. It could be a thought, an action or a relaxation. Whatever they think could help in that situation.

What strategies they use will depend on the situation but having some helpful thoughts and relaxation strategies listed is usually helpful.

Giving children insight into their triggers gives them and understanding of where their emotions come from. Once we give children the "why" for their feelings it is easier to plan the "how" to manage them. When you find the triggers you may find a pattern of behaviour which will then allow you to monitor this for your child and help them prepare. It could be when they are playing in groups larger than 3 kids or when they aren't directing the play. Once you are aware of this you can talk through options before an incident occurs.

The more we understand about what our triggers are the easier it is to cope with the emotions. This is a skill that a child will benefit from their entire life.

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