Many people, children, and adults alike, have a hard time dealing with big emotions.
Taking the time to teach children how they can better manage their emotions is extremely important for their well-being.
In fact, there are many benefits children can gain from being able to do so. They’ll be able to increase their attention span, be less likely to act on their impulses, and have more positive relationships further in life.
Sounds good, right? Here are some simple ways on how you can accomplish these things:
Name the Feeling
Children experience a lot of different feelings that will likely be foreign to them. So you need to help them out by naming these feelings.
For instance, you could say, “You feel a bit sad because you’ve lost your favorite toy.” Use simple terms and phrases to start, keeping the identification of the emotion simple: happy, sad, angry, etc. Over time, you can build the emotional vocabulary with them, until they get to the point that they’re able to identify these feelings, and more complex ones, on their own.
Talk About Feelings and Emotions
Children need to understand that everyone feels various emotions. So make sure that they understand all the different kinds of emotions that they feel.
There’s also the need to talk about the different facial expressions and behaviors that come from these emotions. Using a mirror in this way can help too! Ask your child to change their facial expression to reflect a certain emotion and then show them how they look in the mirror. And if you do this with them, it will help them recognize new facial cues and assign them to the various emotions they represent.
Acknowledge Their Emotions
The next thing to do is to acknowledge your child’s or teen’s feelings. This part is key: show empathy about their situation instead of being judgemental.
You can use statements that can reflect how they feel at the moment, such as “You seem a bit down,” or “That must have made you really disappointed.”
This will teach them that:
- Emotions aren’t bad. They’re part of being a human.
- Sometimes, we don’t have a choice on what we feel, but we have a choice on how we react.
- When you’re comfortable with your own feelings, acknowledge them, and then they will pass. This gives you more control.
Identify Healthy Emotional Outlets
Creating an emotional outlet for your kids will help them release any pent-up emotions that are boiling up inside of them, helping them improve their overall well-being.
Look for healthy emotional outlets where they can effectively channel their negative emotions, turning them into constructive and healthy opportunities for growth. This will help children know more about themselves and even improve their social life!
So let them write in a kid’s journal, encourage them to take up an art class, dance workshop, or let them learn an instrument, play a sport, and so on. Each outlet will appeal to different individuals, so while sport, for instance, may work for one child, it may not be as effective of an emotional outlet for another. Let them try some different types of outlets to see what works best for them.
Teach Coping Skills
It might be helpful for your child to learn how to remove themselves from a particularly tricky situation or take their time to think before responding.
For the younger ones, it might be as simple as counting to five or ten before responding.
Recognize How Others Feel
Children also need to know how to effectively read and understand other people’s emotions.
By knowing how to read facial expressions and body language, they’ll have a better understanding of how they can interact with individuals better.
Story books are great for this, especially with younger ones. As the characters express their emotions, highlight how the character’s facial expressions change or how their body language changes.
For older children, certain movies can provide examples of emotional expression that will allow them to be able to recognize those emotions in others in real life.
Lead by Example
Children tend to learn from others by picking up and mimicking behaviors, whether they’re good or bad. So be a good role model for them and start practicing what you teach.
It’s a human thing to become upset, but being aware of your own coping strategies and using them to be able to maintain control is a great way to set an example for your child. Recognizing when your own facial expressions or body language are expressing emotions you may not realize or want to at that exact moment is a great opportunity to highlight that to your child as well. They will appreciate your candidness and connection with them.
Practice Makes Progress
Doing a role-play game can help kids learn how to navigate various tricky emotional situations in the future.
By talking and practicing how they can handle future situations will come in handy when they inevitably encounter them later on. That way, they’re better equipped with the appropriate coping mechanisms.
From kids trying to act like adults, friendship drama, and the emotional rollercoaster of puberty to name a few common experiences, there’s a vast landscape of emotions out there for children to navigate.
By applying the tips mentioned above, you can equip your children with the tools and experiences they’ll need to navigate this landscape effectively as they mature.