Adults don’t have a monopoly on complex feelings and emotions. Children also experience frustration, anger, sadness, anxiousness and so much more throughout their early years. The difference is a child that young might not have the tools or knowledge to properly express their feelings or manage them. That is why they can come out as temper tantrums or excessive crying.
The good thing is as parents we don’t have to sit around and wait for our children to deal with these emotions on their own. Here are five ways you can help your child learn to understand their emotions, recognise their feelings and learn how to regulate them.
When your child starts to have a temper tantrum because their toy got broken, say something like ‘’You’re sad because your toy is broken.’’ or ‘’You’re frustrated because you can’t figure out this puzzle.’’. Attaching names and labels to feelings and emotions helps your child develop an emotional vocabulary. This new vocabulary, which might be confusing at first, will later help them better express themselves.
Sometimes it’s easier for the child to learn what an emotion looks like if they see it in other people. You can use picture books, children’s tv shows or even cue cards to familiarise your child with different emotions and how they look on someone else’s face. The cue card method is often used with autistic children who struggle with identifying emotions and it can work very well.
The second your child starts to cry or get a little frustrated, your parental instinct will be to try and stop this negative feeling as fast as possible. But instead of doing this, try to help your child sit with their feelings for a little while. Try to also talk about why they feel that way and how they think they can make themselves feel better. Having insight into their emotions, helps children understand them better and know that they pass and they’ll be okay.
Children learn from imitation. If you’re an emotionally healthy adult who is unafraid to name their emotions, discuss them and manage them, your child will eventually become the same. Show your child that all emotions are valid and okay to have by being open about your own experiences. The degree to which you experience emotions might be different to your child, but they still need to see that acceptance in you before they try to practise it themselves.
Your child already loves games and apps, so why not use this medium to help develop their emotional literacy? Our game app QuadEmo helps children understand emotions, how they affect their bodies and behaviour and how to regulate them in fun and engaging ways. Through fun mini-games and animated characters, your child will learn not just to express their feelings but will also have the tools to manage them in a healthy way.
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