Sometimes I feel as though I am on a roller coaster ride as my children take me through all their emotional highs and lows. One moment we can be having the best time and feeling as ecstatic as can be and the next they feel total devastation and the world is coming to an end. If you are anything like me these extreme highs and lows can be difficult to navigate and frustrating on a day to day basis, but we must remember that these are difficult for them to manage as well.
Often times young children are unable to express their emotions (I know some adults that have trouble with this as well!). They do not have the words to articulate what it is they feel and when they do find the words they often cannot express why. Just like any other skill, emotions and expressing them must be taught. As an elementary school teacher I watched children of various ages find it difficult to put a label on their emotions and explain their feelings until they were given the proper tools to define and discuss their feelings.
The first step in helping children to define their emotions is to give them the vocabulary they need. This can start early on with the discussion of various facial expressions and social cues. There are many feeling charts out their that can start you off. Below is a sight that has both simple and more advanced feeling charts.
The following emotions are a great way to begin:
1 – Happy
2 – Sad
3 – Angry
4 – Frustrated
5 – Lonely
6 – Jealous
7 – Excited
8 – Embarrassed
9 – Proud
10 – Cranky
After your children have the words to articulate how they feel it is important to help them define the “why”. This is the part that will help to calm your child’s roller coaster of emotions. The best way to begin this process it to teach them the following sentence.
I feel _______________ when you, or because _________________.
This simple sentence is easy to use and can help children reflect on their emotions. It can also help with conflict identification and management.
Helping our children understand their emotions is the first step in gaining control over them. How do you express and share your emotions in your family?
Written By Nicole Rowley