As parents, it's natural to want to shield our children from negative emotions like sadness, anger, and fear. However, these emotions are a normal and healthy part of life, and it's important for kids to learn how to recognize and express them in a healthy way. Here are five tips for teaching kids about emotions:
Validate their emotions: It's important for kids to feel heard and understood when they are experiencing strong emotions. When your child is upset, validate their feelings by saying something like "I can see that you're feeling sad right now. It's okay to feel sad sometimes."
We love the "TELL" method, which will help you remember how to help your kids feel seen and heard:
- T - Touch their arm, their shoulder, or their hand. Make contact.
- E - Eye Contact. Look them in the eye so they know they have your attention.
- L - Get down on their Level. Crouch down or sit by them.
- L - Listen to them. Listen more than you talk.
Help them identify their emotions: Kids may not always have the words to describe their emotions, so it can be helpful to give them options and help them label their feelings. For example, you could say "Are you feeling happy, sad, or angry right now?" Use a "feeling faces" poster or a book to help kids learn to identify emotions and where they live in the body.
Teach coping strategies: It's important for kids to learn how to cope with and regulate their emotions. Help your child develop strategies for managing their emotions, such as taking deep breaths or counting to ten when they are feeling overwhelmed. Introduce this concept like a book like this one, which introduces the nervous system and how coping strategies can help. You might also try building these skills with a program to help teach coping skills to kids.
Role-play: Role-playing can be a fun and interactive way for kids to learn about emotions. You can act out different scenarios and ask your child how they would feel and how they would cope with different emotions.
Use media: Children's books and movies can be a great way to teach kids about emotions. Look for books or movies that depict different emotions and discuss them with your child afterwards.
By teaching kids about emotions in a supportive and age-appropriate way, we can help them develop the skills they need to navigate the ups and downs of life and form healthy relationships with others.