Are you one of those parents who struggle to teach their kids about emotions and feelings? Don’t worry, you are not alone. It is important for you to focus and notice your child’s emotional and mental development closely in order to recognize their emotions. Helping your child to identify his own feelings and recognizing the causes behind such emotions, will help him learn how to cope with complex emotions later in his life. Also, it will help him learn to establish connections between his thoughts, emotions and actions.
Here are 6 tips you can use to help your child understand his feelings:
1. Use words to explain each feeling
Children learn everything from their experience. They surely would not understand what they feel until someone explains it to them. Help them identify a particular feeling by talking about it. Name the feeling and tell your child using words that he will understand, how it feels when someone experiences that particular emotion. You can make up stories to help them understand it even better. Slowly they will develop a rich emotional vocabulary that will help him identify his own feelings.
2. Use pictures and storybooks
Visualization always helps kids to understand things better. They may not be able to connect the dots properly when you explain someone’s feelings to them. Therefore, you can use pictures, videos or storybooks to show and explain what the characters in the story are feeling at a particular time. Also, try to mimic those expressions and give your child a live demonstration to help him understand it even better.
3. Help them recognize their own feelings
Even though you may have explained how feelings work and how it feels when someone experiences a particular feeling, your kids may not be able to recognize it when they feel it. Look out for their expressions and ask questions in a comforting manner to figure out what they are exactly feeling. Then help them name that feeling and express how they are feeling using words. This way they will learn exactly what to say and how to express their feelings in the future.
4. Help them identify what triggers a particular feeling
Children do not understand how to link a particular feeling to what causes it. Once they learn how to properly identify their own feelings and to explain their emotions to you, you need to teach them to identify what triggers a particular feeling. At first, your child may not be able to understand what causes them to feel in a particular way, but with constant practice and your help, they will learn. By learning to understand and identify the cause of a feeling, they will be able to find a proper way to handle their feelings in the future.
5. Encourage them to share their feelings
Children often learn to hide their feelings (mostly the negative ones) as they grow older, fearing the consequences of expressing their feelings. Be it the guilt of hitting his sister in anger or shame of making a mistake or failing an exam, your child will learn to suffer alone rather than telling you, so as to avoid getting punished. Therefore, you need to encourage them to be honest and share their feelings. Acknowledge and appreciate whenever they do express their feelings and praise them for their honesty.
6. Encourage them to recognize and respect others’ feelings
In order to teach your child to be compassionate and empathic, it is very important for him to recognize and read how others feel. Teach them to read facial expressions or behavioural patterns of a person, when he experiences a particular emotion. They will get a better understanding of the person’s emotional state and learn to respond accordingly. Encourage them to respect others’ feelings and comfort them when they are in distress.