How To Teach Your Child About Feelings And Emotions

Consider experiencing a strong emotion, such as rage. You know you’re feeling something powerful, like a volcano about to erupt, but you can’t put it into words.

You don’t know how to express how you’re feeling. Maybe you’ll start acting it out—stomping your feet, smashing things, hitting—which, if anger is the feeling, might not be the best idea. When people don’t understand why you’re acting so strange, you could acquire a new emotion: irritation.

Children experience the same feelings as adults. Adult emotions are the same as those experienced by children. They simply don’t have the vocabulary—or the repertoire—to express what they’re feeling.

Children are, for all intents and purposes, blank canvases when they enter this world. It is your responsibility as a parent to educate your children on how to express themselves in the healthiest manner possible.

As kids grow into adults, the skills you teach them will go a long way toward assisting them in developing their capacity to communicate appropriately. That is why it is critical to teach your children about emotions and feelings.

Now, just because a youngster can’t express what they’re experiencing doesn’t mean they aren’t dissatisfied, angry, or disappointed. All of those emotions are stored in your body, waiting to be aroused. All that is required of children is for them to comprehend who they are and to learn the phrases that best represent them.

Children as young as two years old might begin to sponge up information. Never believe it’s too early to start teaching children how to react to unpleasant behavior using words rather than conduct.

You may begin by teaching your children fundamental emotions such as happiness, sadness, anger, and fear.
“By four to six years old, most children can recognize and comprehend the fundamental emotions: happy, sad, angry, and afraid,” according to the article Teaching Your Child About Emotions. Basic emotions are the foundation for more complicated feelings like pride, remorse, and shame.

Before being exposed to more complicated emotions, a kid should have a thorough knowledge of the basic emotions.” [1]

There are always chances to teach. If you’re putting Little Lily to bed and she starts crying as soon as you walk out the door, you may say something like, “It seems like you’re afraid because I’m leaving you alone.”

Then you may sit with her and speak about how she’s feeling, including any fears she may be having. You may also tell her that everything is OK and that you’re simply across the room if she needs you at this moment.
You may move to educate your child about more complicated emotions as they become older, such as disappointment, impatience, and anxiousness, among others.

Little Ricky was supposed to play the drums in a show in an old I Love Lucy episode, I recall. Lucy felt apprehensive and communicated her apprehension. Little Ricky overheard a mom say that and immediately inquired as to what “nervous” meant.

Little Ricky, you might guess, was no longer interested in playing the drums once Lucy and Ricky finished teaching it to him.
Of course, teaching your child about being nervous right before a performance is probably not the greatest moment, but you get the point. Make the most of every opportunity to teach.

Here are some ideas on how you may start educating your children about emotions and feelings:

1. Name the Feelings

When you notice your child expressing emotions, it’s important to begin educating them. Assume you’re at a park. Little Beaver is having a great time, but you need to go since you have a dental appointment. Little Beaver crosses his arms and stomps his feet when you instruct him. The smoke is nearly visible pouring out of his ears.

“You’re feeling furious that you have to leave the park, but we have a dental appointment right now,” This is an excellent way to start educating him about his feelings. We’ll return another day.” You gave the sensation a name, and he now has a label for his actions.

Consider the possibility that Little Beaver will be taken up. He’s happy and asks what time it is every few minutes as he looks out the window.

This is a wonderful moment for him to express his emotions. “Wow, you’re really looking forward to meeting your pal, aren’t you?”

Children, like all humans, are always feeling. It shouldn’t be difficult to find coaching opportunities throughout the day. Make use of them.

2. Use Characters From Their Favorite TV Shows or Movies.

PBS KIDS Talk About Feelings and Emotions is an outstanding PBS show in which professionals ask children about feelings, what they think they are, and how to manage them. It’s a great show to watch with your kids since it allows you to talk about how they’re feeling.

Inside Out is another film that I believe is one of the finest for both children and adults. Every emotion has a personality in this film.

Each person expresses their emotions through their actions. Essentially, the film emphasizes the importance of understanding one’s sentiments and being able to communicate them effectively.

By the way, one of the many, many things I loved about Inside Out is that it teaches its audience that it’s okay to experience all types of feelings. There is no right or wrong when it comes to feelings—only how they are expressed is important.

3. Read Books That Have Characters Dealing With Emotions

Love You Forever, written by Robert Munsch and drawn by Sheila McGraw, is one of my favorite books. I’ve read this book numerous times since it’s so wonderful. It’s a touching story that you may tell your kids to teach them about various emotions including irritation, rage, love, and grief.

“What do you suppose his mommy is feeling right now after her son made a mess in the kitchen?” you might ask your child while you read the book.

“How do you suppose the guy feels watching his mother become elderly and frail?” or “How do you think the man feels seeing his mother grow old and frail?”

This is an excellent chance to discuss the many periods of life and the various experiences we may encounter, as well as to teach your children about emotions and feelings.

4. Teach Songs That Talk About Feelings

You’ve undoubtedly heard this one before—perhaps even sung it to your child—but there’s a fantastic song called If You’re Happy and You Know It! This is a charming song to teach your kids about happiness. It’s a catchy melody with lyrics that run like this:

“If you know you’re joyful, clap your hands…stomp your feet…shout hurray,” and so on. It’s a fun and active approach to teach youngsters about happiness.

Feelings and Emotions Song for Kids is another wonderful song to educate about being happy, sad, furious, and so on. It’s a sweet little melody that helps youngsters learn different emotions and the behaviors that go along with them.

5. Talk About How Other People Feel

At our house, we have Family Night once a week. My 9-year-old granddaughter enjoys talking. We generally walk around the table and tell each other about our day’s highlights.

She’s Ms. Chatty Kathy when it’s her turn. When it’s the turn of the next person, she generally tunes out, slides down in her chair, or stands up to go. She is uninterested since the attention is no longer on her.

I’ve taken advantage of this opportunity to educate my child about other people’s emotions and sentiments. “Sophia, you had your chance, and everyone listened intently,” I may add.

When your brother is attempting to share his day with you and you stand up and leave the table, how do you think he feels?” Then she’ll remark something along the lines of, “Sad?”

And I’ll say, “Yes, that’s right, he’s disappointed that you won’t listen to him.” She typically understands what I’m trying to say.
She still has to be educated that other people have feelings and that it is vital for her to respect them, even at the age of nine. This is also an excellent opportunity to teach empathy.

6. Make It a Habit to Label Your Own Feelings

My father recently died away. Obviously, I was dejected and unhappy. My granddaughter lives next door and has witnessed the entire ordeal, from the moment my father collapsed until his death four weeks later.

“I’m afraid Abuelo won’t make it,” I informed her after the first tumble. “I went to the hospital to see Abuelo and was extremely sorry to see him so helpless,” or “I went to the hospital to see Abuelo and was very sad to see him so helpless.” I exhibited yet another emotion after his death: relief. “It makes me so pleased that he died at home and that he is no longer in pain.”

This was a devastating blow to me and my entire family. Fortunately, the memorial provided us with a wonderful opportunity to express our thoughts. And while 9-year-old Sophia listened intently, she was able to express her own thoughts: “Abuelo was a wonderful man.” He was always willing to help me with my problems. I regret not getting to know him better.” It was a wonderful thing to hear.

7. Explain Other People’s Emotions

Egocentricity is a characteristic of children. They are under the impression that the world revolves around them. Egocentric thinking refers to a young child’s natural inclination to interpret everything that happens in terms of himself or herself. This isn’t a case of self-centeredness. Different points of view are incomprehensible to young children.” [2]

For example, if your small child is bouncing up and down as an earthquake occurs, they would most likely believe that they caused the earthquake. Their inexperience stops them from knowing any better. Similarly, when parents divorce, the child assumes it is their fault—that they must have done something wrong to trigger the split.

Kids have a hard time understanding that other people have emotions and feelings because they believe they are the center of the universe. If they do, they may think they are to blame.

Use appropriate opportunities to explain how others feel and to emphasize that they are not always to blame for others’ feelings. For example, if your father and I are getting divorced, you may remark, “Your father and I are getting divorced, but that has nothing to do with you.”

We are both devoted to you. We recognize that this is an extremely difficult time for you. Also for us!”

8. Use Pictures or Emojis

There’s also a video called Educational video – Feelings and Emotions With Emojis that you might wish to watch with your kids. It will not only assist you in teaching children about this important issue, but it will also provide you with some quality bonding time.

Another major benefit of educating kids about emotions, particularly anger and frustration, is that they will be less inclined to act out. For example, if you encourage children to vent their emotions via words rather than hitting, they are less likely to strike out physically. At the very least, they’ll have access to the words.

Pictures and emojis are other excellent methods to teach your children about feelings and emotions. On one of my visits to the hospital to see my father, I recall seeing a board with several small emoji faces from which a patient could pick to represent their pain level. This is something that can be done with youngsters.

You may show them emojis and ask, “Which sensation are you having right now?” when they’re feeling something you identify. “Would you want to pick one of these?” You might want to go over each one and explain what it means first.

9. Monkey See, Monkey Do!

Your children are always observing you. It’s almost as if they’re a surveillance camera. They are really attentive. As a result, if your child witnesses you throwing your phone across the room after a furious argument, it will be noted.

Always be conscious of your emotions and how you express them. Are you using obscene language or acting in an obscene manner? Do you yell at someone who cuts you off while driving down the 405? This is something that a lot of people do.

Remember that if you have a youngster in the car, they are paying attention. You’re demonstrating how to react when you’re furious. Instead of yelling at someone, which is ineffective, say something like, “It irritates me when I’m cut off.” It frightens me because it might lead to disaster.

Final Thoughts

It opens up a whole new world for your children when you educate them about their feelings and emotions, as well as the words to use to express them. It’s the same feeling Helen Keller had when she finally grasped the meaning of words.

There’s an incredible sequence in the movie The Miracle Worker where she discovers that water has a name—that everything has a name. There was no stopping her after that—her world had totally opened up. To this day, that scene gives me the creeps.

You’re investing in your child’s well-being jar when you take the time and effort to explain what feelings and emotions are. You are raising mentally strong children who will develop into mentally strong people if you can educate them what feelings are and how they affect others, not to mention themselves. And as parents, we all want to be like that!

Reference:

[1]^ConnectAbility: Teaching Your Child About Emotions

[2]^Michigan Medicine: Egocentric and Magical Thinking

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