How to talk to your child about emotions
Children’s social and emotional skills begin to develop from a very young age. Building a good understanding of emotions when you’re young helps you relate to others and manage your own mental health later on. Talking openly with children about how they feel and why, enables them to start recognising and understanding different emotions. It is important that when your child is at school they are able to tell their teachers how they are feeling. Follow these simple steps from our friends at Feeling Better to start communicating with your children about their feelings.
1. Start talking
Try asking your child to describe how they are feeling, and follow up with open questions about what’s happened to make them feel this way. For example; ‘Tell me about how you are feeling?’ or ‘What has happened to make you feel like this?’ Talking will help your child process their feelings and make sense of them, as well as calming them down.
Try this: Encourage your child to consider their feelings each day, by simply asking ‘how are you feeling today?’ You could even listen to this Feeling Better song together as a prompt to start the conversation.
2. Put a label on it
Once your child has described how they are feeling help them put a label on it. Are they feeling angry? Worried? Scared? Frustrated? Happy? Doing this will help increase their vocabulary, and make it easier to recognise the emotion the next time they experience it.
3. It’s okay to feel this way
It’s important that your child knows that it’s okay to feel different emotions, even if it’s not a nice feeling. Experiencing emotions like jealousy, envy or even feeling selfish can help us learn about ourselves and other people. Reinforce to your child that we all experience challenging feelings
4. Feeling Faces
Encouraging your child to recognise different facial expressions helps them to make connections between what they’re feeling and what that might look like. A down turned mouth can be sad, an upturned one can be happy! What about excited – what does our mouth do then? What do our eyebrows do?
Try this: Get creative with this fun craft project. Spend time creating lots of different face components with your child. Then make as many faces as you can, asking your child to guess what emotion the face is feeling each time.
5. Share your stories
There are lots of complex emotions that might seem hard to describe to your child. Help them understand by giving examples of a time you felt this way. You could describe what happened to make you feel this way and share what you did to make yourself feel better.
Try this: To help your child better understand more complex emotions, watch Feeling Better together and use the episodes as a starting point for your conversations.