Emotions can be difficult to deal with and identify for children and adults. Some adults struggle with expressing their emotions in the best way and being okay with the emotions they may be feeling, which is why it is important to teach children how to identify and handle their emotions while they are young.
When you put a focus on emotions and don’t make them something that are frowned upon to speak of, your child will feel more comfortable facing their emotions and learn how to handle them in the best way possible. Most people don’t have the innate ability to identify their emotions and how to control and handle them, which is why this is something you have to teach.
At Growing Kids Learn Centers, we know how important the early years of your child’s life are and how much they can develop during this time. The first few years of your child’s life are when they develop a variety of skills, including physical and cognitive skills. During this time, teaching your child about emotions can help them be more comfortable confronting their emotions as adults.
In this blog, we are going to give you some tips for teaching your child about emotions. Read on to learn more and be sure to check out our child care programs today!
Label Their Feelings
One of the best ways for your child to begin learning about emotions is to start labeling them when you notice they are feeling a certain way. If you see your child is sad, say something like, “I see you are sad, why do you feel this way?” They will begin to connect the way they are feeling with the labels you give them and realize that their emotions can change based on what has happened.
By labeling your kiddos’ emotions, you are helping them build an emotional vocabulary that allows them to better talk about their feelings. While sometimes it can be difficult to tell what your child is feeling, you can talk them through their emotions, learn what happened to make them feel how they are currently feeling, and then label the emotion.
Label Feelings In Others
Another great way to teach your child about emotions is to talk about emotions in others. Not only can this help them learn more about their feelings, but it can also help them make the connection that other people have feelings too, which can simultaneously teach them empathy.
Whether you are reading a book, watching a movie, or walking through a grocery store, ask your child what they think people are feeling. If you are reading a book to your child and the character loses their favorite toy, ask your kiddo what emotion they think the character is feeling. Ask them how they would feel in that situation. This can teach them to put themselves in other people’s shoes, allowing them to better understand their emotions.
Talk About How They Affect Emotions
Letting your child know that their actions can affect other people’s feelings can teach them about emotions and that they can cause people to feel a certain way. Again, this teaches empathy and also helps them learn that their actions have consequences. Let’s say your child calls their sibling a name, you can say, “You hurt your brother’s feelings when you called him that name and now he is sad.”
Empathy is another important thing to teach your child when they are young, and the best time to teach them how to be empathetic is when you are teaching them about emotions. When kids realize that they can affect the way someone feels, they are more likely to be mindful of how they act toward others.
Teach How to Express Emotions
There are ways to express emotions that are okay and ways that are not okay. Kicking, screaming, and throwing a tantrum when your child is mad is not okay. Taking a moment by themselves to be mad and calm down is okay. While young children may have a hard time dealing with their emotions and knowing how to express them, as your child gets older you can teach them how to properly express their emotions.
Teaching your child to use their words to express their emotions is a great start. When your child is calm and not feeling any intense emotion, talk to them about how to express their feelings in the right way. Ask them what makes them happy or what can calm them down. They can try sitting outside when they are mad or laying on their bed and talking to their stuffed animals. When they are sad, maybe they just need a hug until they feel better. Helping your child find appropriate ways to express their emotions allows them to better handle them when they feel a certain way.
Be a Role Model
By now, you know that your children learn a lot by observing you and what you do. Be sure that you are expressing your emotions appropriately as well. While we know it can sometimes be hard to contain your anger or sadness, it is important that you do your best while your child is around. They can learn a lot about expressing emotions from you. Model the behaviors you want them to adopt.
When you are mad, go for a walk or go sit outside and decompress. Your child will learn to go somewhere to decompress rather than throwing a tantrum or taking their anger out on those around you. Again, this may be a challenge, but it can also be the best way to teach your child how to properly express themselves.
A Different Perspective
Children are used to getting physically hurt. Poor coordination and playing non-stop lead to scraped knees, scratches, and other “booboos” that most kids experience daily. Kiddos learn how to handle physical pain or feelings. If they get a scrape on their knee, they accept that it is there and ask for a bandaid to make it feel better. They are not ashamed of getting hurt or asking for what they need to feel better. They are not embarrassed that they feel physical pain and they know they need to address it for it to feel better.
Teaching your child to do the same thing with their feelings can help them feel more comfortable dealing with their emotions. Teach them to accept the way they feel, learn how to deal with it, and not feel ashamed for asking for what they need to feel better. This will be extremely beneficial when your child gets older. Our culture often teaches us to hide our feelings and that we should be ashamed of feeling certain things, which is unhealthy. Teaching your child to treat their emotional pain as they would physical pain can help them feel more comfortable with their emotions.
Praise your child when they express their emotions in a positive way. Praise them when they use their words to tell you how they are feeling. Praise them when they tell you what they need to feel better. By praising your child when they can express their emotions appropriately and handle them properly, you can reinforce this good behavior. Let them know that you are proud of them for having self-control and expressing their emotions in a mature way.
It is best to be specific. If your child tells their sibling that they were mad that their sibling stole their toy, be sure to say something like, “I’m proud of you for telling your brother that what he did made you mad without yelling or hitting. That was mature of you.” This praise will help them learn how to handle their emotions now and as they grow older.
By following these tips, you can help your child learn about emotions and how to handle them. This is an important lesson for young kiddos to learn that will benefit them throughout their later years of life. Start working with your child on their emotions and be sure to check our Growing Kids Learning Centers today!