As they grow, children start experiencing different emotions, but don’t know the best ways to handle and express them. This can lead to difficult situations: crying when they are angry or jealous, and not being able to tell you what exactly is wrong. As parents, it is our job to have a lot of conversations with your child, teach them about emotions and different ways they can express what they are feeling. This way, you will help them become calmer and more confident.
Labels are good
Teaching your child what are different emotions named can help a lot in their initial understanding of how they work in the first place. By talking to them about different situations and different emotions such as sadness when mommy is away, anger when they cannot put a puzzle together, or relief when they finally get a hug and a kiss from their dad after a long day. By labelling the emotions, you are giving them means to express themselves more easily, thus allowing them to react accordingly, and not inadequately.
Be a detective
Playing detective is incredibly fun for children, but this time you can teach them to identify emotions in themselves as well as in the others. Play different games with them to help them learn about emotions; show them cards with happy, sad, and angry faces on and have them make up stories about possible reasons for those people to make those exact faces. This way, they will learn to connect actions with feelings too; they might say: “This boy fell and his arm hurts, so now he is sad”, or “The little girl must be going to the zoo with her family, that’s why she is so happy”.
Learn to be gentle
When your firstborn gets a younger sibling, they can often feel angry, threatened, or even jealous of the youngest member of the family. To prevent this from happening, talk to them openly during your pregnancy, and when you come back from the hospital. Assure them that you love them just the same, but show them that their sibling is small and needs to be loved and protected too. Have them wrap up the younger one in baby sleeping bag and rock them to sleep. This way, they will feel the stings of jealousy passing away and gentleness pervading in its place.
Build good foundations
It is simple: there are no good or bad emotions, only good and bad ways of expressing them. Anger, jealousy, and sadness are as natural and pure as happiness and sleepiness. When your child is able to understand what exactly it is that they feel, they will be able to learn how to express them better. Learning how to manage your emotions and express them the right way is a skill that is rather difficult to master, but if you have good foundations, it will be much easier.
A lot of people today don’t like to talk about their feelings, and have a hard time identifying what exactly to they feel in certain situations. If you want your child to grow up to be a person who knows themselves very well, and is confident because they know what they are feeling, you will find the time and teach them about emotions.
Emma Lawson is a busy mom to two wonderful boys. She is passionate about writing. This article came as an inspiration after going shopping at Bubbaroo with my son. You can follow Emma on Twitter @EmmahLawson