The first step to manage our kids’ emotions is to be able to identify them
Children usually don’t have a wide range of vocabulary to really describe and explain how they are really feeling and often use the basic terms happy, sad, angry, scared etc. to describe their feelings.
But we know there are many more emotion words that we use every day, or we have heard others use that help us to describe how we are really feeling. For example – When we are looking forward to Christmas, we might say we say we are feeling excited, curious, thrilled, eager, enthusiastic which are all different intensities of the emotion of happiness.
Tips for developing emotional understanding with your child
- Bring your child’s attention to emotions. When your child or someone else (family members, friends, character in a book or on TV) is expressing an emotion, use the opportunity to label the particular emotion. “I can see you are feeling annoyed, tell me about how you are feeling”.
- Never discount their emotions. If your child talks about their emotions, always encourage this and if they are feeling unpleasant emotions let them know you can help them to find ways to feel better.
- Help them learn the names of emotions. Discuss the everyday feelings they experience and encourage them to use descriptive words to describe how they feel. “When I am feeling a little bit angry, I might say I am feeling frustrated or I am feeling annoyed”.
- Talk about how you feel. Demonstrate the use of different language to describe how you feel to show how feelings can change throughout the day.
- Use stories to explore emotions. Stories that describe people expressing their emotions can help your child to learn about emotional responses. It also helps them to relate to the emotions of others which supports the development of empathy for others.
- Watch TV or movies characters’ responses together. Identify emotions and responses of the characters or discuss your own emotional responses to the content. “How would you feel if that happened to you?” and “How would you deal with that situation if it happened to you?”.
If you are struggling, call Lifeline on 131 114, or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636. If children are struggling, they can call Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800 or Youth Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636