Dear parents and students, the distance learning environment is a “special” challenge for us because the relatively insular and monotonous environment will make children overstimulate, bored, and irritable, so how is your relationship with your children during this time? Are there a lot of questions, concerns, and frustrations? Don’t worry. We will try to resolve your worries.

Both parents and children have emotional baggage that they carry into their relationship. Therefore, emotions constitute the backdrop of the parent-child relationship, and healthy management of emotions is the fundamental guarantee for maintaining a good parent-child relationship.
Below are some of the questions our parents have asked our school counselor to answer.


Parent A : “During online classes, the child’s mood becomes more unstable. Sometimes he is very restless, and other times he is very depressed. Why is this?”

Teacher : These concerning behaviors are merely the external expression of students’ emotions. To understand our children, we should first comprehend the origins of their feelings.

While adults possess a fully mature prefrontal cortex that regulates and controls emotions produced by their amygdala, it takes a lot of time for children’s prefrontal cortex to mature. Children are prone to emotional, unreasonable, and irrational behavior due to these physiological factors.

Second, emotional generation is also affected by environmental factors. The particular characteristics of the online learning environment inevitably bring children’s “abnormal” emotional response. Frequent and dynamic interactions with lots of people are necessary for emotional regulation. The relatively isolated and dreary environment of distance learning stagnates children’s growth in emotional adjustment by depriving them of motivation, an optimistic attitude, and positive emotions like happiness.


Parent B : “Now parents are very overwhelmed and moody because they now have to work at home and supervise their children studying online at the same time. The sight of their children not paying attention during online lessons adds fuel to the fire. Therefore, parents tend to engage in heated arguments with their children. What can I do to alleviate the dysfunctional family dynamics?”
Teacher : I wonder if this is an issue that most parents face. Please note that parents must avoid transmitting negative emotions between themselves and their children. Doing so means parents cannot make their relationships with their children toxic by using displacement as a defense mechanism. When parents lose control of their emotions, they come off as intimidating and unsafe to their children, threatening the intimacy and security of the parent-child relationship. 

Here are some ways that parents can do things differently. First, when parents realize that they have negative emotions, they should avoid doing things that are more likely to trigger conflicts. Second, they should use coping strategies such as taking deep breaths, temporarily walking away from the argument, and distracting themselves. Parents must manage their feelings first before dealing with their children.


Parent C : “My child’s anger often comes out of nowhere, and I cannot recognize the source of his emotions. When I ask him why he feels this way, he doesn’t want to talk about it. There are always conflicts between us whenever we are together. Is it true that absence makes the heart grow fonder?

Teacher : First, I will explain some psychological concepts about emotion management in detail. There are three stages of regulating emotions. When children are in the earliest stages of their development, they either suppress their feelings unconsciously or perform extreme behavior to express emotions that they feel incapable of otherwise expressing. Then, as they grow older, they find healthier ways of venting their negative emotions. They also demonstrate a marked improvement in expressing their feelings accurately and constructively. The increase in their maturity levels leads them to cultivate a high level of awareness of their inner worlds and use their feelings as treasure chests where they could reap valuable insights about themselves, about other people, and the world.

It is likely that your child still possesses relatively rudimentary emotion regulation abilities. There are times that your child represses his feelings because he thinks that he cannot express them outwardly. He may also regard his negative emotions as bad things that he must push away. Therefore, he can have an emotional outburst one day without knowing what might be triggering him at that time. The behavioral manifestations of his agitation include bawling, screaming, and throwing things. At this point, parents cannot get through to their children by using words alone. Therefore, before reasoning with your child, you can try to let him vent his frustrations for a while or draw his attention towards something else that is more calming. 



Parent D : “My child and I had a few confrontations during distance learning. After that, we continued to do our things, and I just put it behind me.

Teacher : Your child released all of his pent-up feelings during the conflict. When he calms down, you should help him engage in healthy emotional catharsis and learn to express his emotions effectively. You can do so by helping your child understand his feelings and the reason behind his unpleasant and disruptive behaviors, comforting him, encouraging him to discuss his emotions, and working with him to formulate strategies for emotion regulation. Some of these skills include talking to friends or loved ones, exercising, doing relaxing things, and listening to music. 


Please pay attention to the following things when you work hard to improve emotion regulation in the relationship you have with your children.

  1. Children feel frustrated, angry, sad, overwhelmed, or any other unpleasant emotion because people around them did not meet their needs to the fullest extent. 
  2. Dealing with emotions in the parent-child relationship lets you know yourself and your child better.
  3. When helping your child regulate his emotions, you should encourage your children to recognize and name their thoughts and feelings when they feel overwhelmed. It is a splendid idea to explore the specific areas in their bodies that store the different emotions they have with your child. Once your child gains more awareness of what goes on in his body and mind when he experiences distress, you can work with him to find more appropriate coping skills with his feelings. 
  4. Giving your children a space to vent their frustrations is only one part of teaching them to control their emotions. Resolving the issues that led to your childs overwhelming emotions is more important. Asking your children problem-solving questions such as, How are you feeling right now?, How would you like to solve that?” and Is there a part of that I can help with?” builds their abilities to look for their solutions and not blame others. Doing so also allows you to acknowledge feelings and create a more solid emotional trust that becomes the foundation of a stronger relationship with your children that can last for years.
During this challenging time of online learning, the school counseling center dedicates a plethora of resources and energy to meet students’ mental health needs. If you or your child have any questions or concerns, you can contact your childs homeroom teacher or make an appointment with a counselor by scanning the QR code below. 
In addition to the counseling services offered by our school, you can also call the Shanghai Psychological Counseling Hotline, and its phone number is 962525. Another option is the Pudong District Adolescent Mental Health Education and Development Center, and the number you can dial is 4008206235. These are two ways to obtain more specialized support for yourself and your child.