Feelings are complicated, especially for the 4-year-old who doesn’t understand why you won’t let him eat another cookie an 8-year-old is upset that you got called into work & you have to leave the playground early.
It’s very hard to teach kids about feelings because it’s a fairly abstract concept. It’s hard to describe how it feels to be sad, excited, or scared.
It’s important to start teaching kids about their emotions as early as possible since their feelings affect every choice they make. Kids who understand their emotions are less likely to act out by using aggression, temper tantrums, & defiance to express themselves.
A child who can say that, “now I am mad at you,” is less likely to hit someone. & the child who can say, “That hurts my feelings completely,” is better equipped to resolve conflict peacefully. Teaching your child about their emotions will help him become mentally strong. Kids who understand their emotions & have the coping skills to deal with them will be confident that they can handle whatever life throws their way.
Teach your child simple Feeling Word
Teach your preschooler basic feeling words such as happy, mad, sad & scared. Older kids can benefit from learning more complex feeling words such as frustrated, disappointed, & nervous.
A great way to help your kids to learn about feelings is to discuss how various characters in books or TV shows may feel. Pause for ask, “How do you think that what is his/her feeling right now?” Then, discuss the various feelings the character may be experiencing & the reasons why. Talking about other people’s feelings also teaches empathy. Young children think that the world revolves around them so it can be an eye-opening experience for them to learn that other people have feelings too. If your child knows that pushing his friend to the ground may make his friend mad & sad, he will be less likely to do it.
Create Opportunities to Talk your child about Feelings
Show child how to use feeling words in their daily vocabulary. Model how to express your feelings by taking opportunities to share your feelings. On Daily basis, ask your child, “How are you feeling today?” With young children, use a simple chart with smiley faces if that helps them to pick a feeling & then discuss that feeling together. Talk about the types of things which influence the feelings of your child.
Point out when you notice your child is likely feeling the particular feeling. For example, you just say that, “You look really happy that we are going to be eating ice cream & give them chocolate,” or “It looks like you are getting frustrated playing with those blocks.”
Look for Teachable moments
You are going to need to work with your child on emotions throughout his entire childhood, including the teen years. It is important to continue to have ongoing conversations about how to handle emotions in a healthy way.
When your child makes a mistake, by breaking something out of anger or by giving up when he’s frustrating, consider it an opportunity to teach him how to do better next time. Look for teachable moments (& keep in mind there will be plenty of them) to help him find healthy ways to cope with his feelings.
Teach your child very politely, How to Deal with Feelings
Kids need to learn that just because they feel angry does not mean they can hit anybody. Instead, they need to learn about anger management skills so they can resolve conflict peacefully. Proactively teach your child how to deal with the uncomfortable emotions. Encourage your child to take a self-time out. Encourage him/her to go to his room or another quiet place when he gets upset. This can help him calm down before he breaks a rule & gets sent to time-out.
Teach your child in healthy ways to deal with sad feelings as well. If your child feels sad because his friend won’t play with him, talk about ways he can deal with his sad feelings. Often, kids don’t know what to do when they feel sad so they become exhibit or aggressive attention-seeking behaviors.
Re-In force positive ways to Express Feelings
Reinforce good behavior with the positive consequence. Praise your children for expressing their emotions in a socially appropriate way by saying things such as, “I really like the way you used your words when you told your sister you were mad at her.”
Another great way to reinforce healthy habits is to use the reward-system. For example, the token economy system could help a child practice using his healthy coping strategies when he feels angry instead of becoming aggressive.
Model Healthy Choice
If you tell your children to use their words when he’s angry but he witnesses you throw your phone after a dropped call, your words won’t be effective. Model healthy ways to deal with uncomfortable emotions.
Point out times when you feel angry or frustrated & say it out loud. Then say, “Wow, I am angry, that car just the pulled in front of me.” Then take some deep breaths or model another healthy coping skill so your child can learn to recognize the skills, you use when you feel angry.