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Tips For Teaching Children About Feelings

Mother holding and talking with toddler son

It can be challenging for children to describe when they feel sad, scared, or excited since feelings are a somewhat abstract concept. But, it is important to teach your child about their emotions as early as possible since their emotions will affect every choice they make.

Studies show that children who understand their emotions are less likely to have temper tantrums, aggression, and defiance to express themselves. In addition, children who can put their feelings in to words can more efficiently resolve conflicts and are less likely to hit others. Plus, teaching your children how to understand their emotions can help them develop coping skills for whatever life throws at him.

How do you start?

1. Verbalize feelings.

Start by asking your child about how they feel. This allows them to express their mood. Using a chart with smiley faces can help younger children pick the emotion they are feeling and give you the opportunity to talk about it with them. Next, include feeling words in your child’s daily vocabulary.

Show them how to express their emotions by taking opportunities to share your feelings as well. For example, you can point out certain situations like, ” I feel sad that you do not like to share your toys with your brother today. I bet he feels sad too.” or “I’m happy you liked your new shoes.” or “You seem upset, is anything bothering you?” Do not hesitate to discuss the types of things that influence your child’s emotions.

2. Mind your tone of voice.

Kids listen to the tone of voice you are using. Learn how to use the right tone of voice when expressing feelings. Children tend to copy you, and your tone of voice when speaking influences how they receive your message.

When you are angry or happy, your child will hear that from your speaking tone, and they will listen to that more than the message itself. That is why the tone of voice is essential, as it’s also a way to set an example in communicating with others, such as their peers, teachers, and other individuals in their lives.

3. Teach your child coping strategies.

Children need to learn how to deal with their emotions to avoid outbursts such as hitting or breaking things when they feel upset or angry. Instead, teach your child anger management skills and how to deal with uncomfortable situations so that they can resolve conflict peacefully.

Let your child know that taking a self-timeout whenever he feels upset can give them time to calm down before going further and breaking a rule and eventually getting sent to timeout. Be proactive in dealing with both anger and sad feelings. In this way, you can teach your child what to do whenever a friend won’t play with them or be sad for something they cannot have.

Children usually turn to meltdowns to get their way with things. Speaking to them about ways to deal with sadness can prevent your child from developing aggressive or attention-seeking behaviors.

4. Use positive reinforcement.

Praise your child whenever he expresses his emotions in a socially appropriate way, such as, “I’m so glad that you are using your words to express how you are feeling towards your friend when you are angry with her.”

There are several approaches to giving positive reinforcement, such as using a reward system. In this way, your children can practice using the healthy coping strategies you taught them on controlling anger.

Teaching your child how to deal with his or her emotions doesn’t stop in their childhood. You will be dealing with their feelings most especially when they reach their teens. That is why it is essential to maintain a healthy and loving relationship with your child. Be on the lookout for teachable moments to help your children find healthy ways to deal with their feelings. There will be many.

Ask a pediatrician for more examples and tips for helping your children recognize and process their emotions in a healthy manner. Book an appointment with a pediatrician here.

 

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Pediatric Care at Sunshine

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