Simple ways to tell your child about emotions
According to scientists, in the language of the Eskimos and other Northern peoples there are at least 50 words for different shades of snow. Eskimo children hear these words in the speech of adults and gradually begin to see the connection between the words and the phenomena of the world around them. Similarly, when parents talk about emotions, children learn to recognize them in themselves and in others. Understanding and accepting your emotions is the first step to learning how to manage them.
A person can experience a large number of emotions. Psychologists depict all their diversity in the form of the so-called “wheel of emotions”. According to this scheme, all human feelings are reduced to four basic:
Happiness, which is associated with love, joy and peace. This is our natural state when we are passionate about something.
Fear is our response to various threats. It is associated with feelings of terror and anxiety (fear of an implicit threat), powerlessness and helplessness. In animals, the feeling of fear can turn into anger – this is a kind of protective reaction.
Sadness is a reaction to loss and disappointment. It is associated with feelings of grief, depression and loneliness. Many people defend themselves against feelings of sadness by expressing anger.
Anger is a reaction to an external or internal threat. It is associated with irritation, frustration and rage. When a person does not notice the feeling of anger, it can be directed inward, turning into depression or insensitivity.
How to teach a child to understand their emotions? Just observe his feelings and those of others and explain them to the child without judgment. So the child will learn to recognize their emotions and the emotions of others.
During the day, look for opportunities to talk to the child about emotions, recognize his feelings:
“You look upset»
“You can’t sit still! You must be excited!»
“I understand that you feel safer when you know what’s going to happen. Me too»
“I hear you! You don’t like spinach, and you don’t want to eat it.”
When you talk to your child about emotions, try to refrain from moralizing. Instead, ask questions to teach him, through reflection, to understand his emotions. For example, you can ask the following questions:
“If you’re mad at your friend, what can you do?»
“If you’re mad at me, what can you do?»;
“If you’re angry because your toy broke, what can you do?»
“When do you make better decisions: when you’re angry or when you’re calm?»
“What helps you calm down when you’re angry?»
When you and your child see another child crying, ask them questions:
“This boy looks miserable. What do you think he’s upset about?»
“What do you think he wants?»
“Do you think there’s anything we can do to help him?»
Such questions teach the child compassion. For example, when parents think aloud in front of a child about what his younger brother feels or wants, the child develops empathy for his brother, and the relationship between them becomes closer. When parents read books to a young child and talk to them about how other children feel, they become more friendly and less aggressive toward their peers.
When parents recognize that emotions are an important part of a fulfilling life and speak positively about emotions, children learn to recognize and Express them. This is the first step towards learning how to control your feelings.