Nothing prepares you for the act of parenting, quite like being a parent. Yes, we all read a few books and downloaded some helpful apps about what to expect when expecting... Or which items one should have packed for the hospital baby bag. But knowing how to handle your children's emotions is a different ball game and requires some guidance and reassuring methods.
Our little ones come with a tornado of feelings that can sometimes leave even the most experienced among us a little stumped. We’re pretty sure you’ve used the “Use your words to tell mommy how you feel” line - are we right? Expecting little ones to verbalise their emotions isn’t so easy. More often than not, children can’t verbalise how they feel as they haven’t yet learnt the skills to express themselves. Cue a thrashing tantrum in the grocery store - we’ve all been there.
As with many things in life, the more tools and assistance one has on hand, the easier it is to know how to deal with these situations when they arise.
Dr Ashley, a Developmental Psychologist and mom from Nurture and Thrive Blog, provides an excellent understanding of children and emotions. “As a parent, I have a mantra “emotions are simply energy.” They are neither good nor bad, even though our culture has labelled emotions as something to be suppressed and something to avoid. Children haven’t yet learned how to regulate their emotions well. And we can either try to shut down all of their feelings, or we can embrace them and teach them about what they’re feeling”.
Understanding and developing a child's emotional intelligence is ongoing, but there are a few ways to make the journey easier for both parents and children.
According to Twinkl, a local education blog, emotional intelligence is best described as “the ability to be aware of, understand, control and express our emotions. It is also about developing empathy and our ability to form deep relationships with others”.
We’ve highlighted a few ideas and resources on how best to teach your children about emotions - it’s a big journey but it doesn’t have to be rocky and can easily be navigated!
1. Learning About Different Feelings
Before one can start discussing emotions, it’s best to start learning what exactly feelings are and what kind of feelings we all experience.
2. Identifying Emotions Through A Self-Portrait
Identifying and understanding emotions is a huge milestone for children, but this takes time, especially when learning to understand the emotions of others.
A great exercise to get the little ones to really grasp the emotions of others is through visual signs such as facial expressions, and self-portraits.
What You’ll Need:
- A mirror
- Some crayons or pens
- A piece of paper with each emotion written on each piece of paper (Angry, Happy, Sad, Frustrated)
How To Do It:
- Ask your child to look in the mirror and examine how their face changes for each emotion.
- Get them to draw the emotion on the page.
- Discuss what one would feel when: angry, happy, sad, frustrated.
Download a My Emotions Worksheet Book from Still Playing School - they also have other free printable resources on hand regarding emotions and feelings.
3. Watch Kiddie-Friendly Videos About Feelings And Emotions
Children tend to respond well to visual aids and stimulation. This is where technology can really step in and assist.
Of course, one should always ensure that the visual aids are age-appropriate and fall within a category of understanding for each age group.
The Feelings Song covers a wide range of feelings, and emotions and along with a song, it also has appropriate animations to highlight the emotion. Click here to view The Feelings Song.
4. Reading Time Is Learning About Emotions Too…
Sometimes learning about new things is best incorporated into an already structured (and known) part of a child's day.
Story and reading time is often a soothing and comforting activity, and it provides the ideal time to teach the little ones about emotions. When reading to your child, discuss how the characters in the story are feeling.
Point out clues that would let you know what the characters are feeling, such as facial expressions or how the characters are behaving. Explain why characters are feeling the way they are or why they are expressing certain emotions.
An excellent book for younger children to read is The Way I Feel. It also includes wonderful imagery to highlight emotions.
5. Learn About Emotions Through Lego
Lego has a place in all of our homes, and that carries through to teaching your kids about emotions. Yup, Lego plays its part in that genre of parenting too and can be especially helpful when dealing with sibling frustration which can often lead to screaming matches *eeeeeek!*.
How To Do It:
- Build LEGO men and women.
- Use an erasable khoki pen for drawing.
What To Do:
- See how many emotions you can come up with.
- Draw an emotion on your LEGO man or woman and ask your child to identify it by acting out the emotion or showing the same emotion.
Whatever you do, make sure to pack that Lego away properly - we all know stepping on a piece of Lego is the ultimate parenting pain.
There you have it, just a few easy resources to start the learning about emotions journey. And when you feel like things simply need to be interrupted with a bit of playtime, pop into Wonderdal, we’re always here to help with your parenting journey. And who better to teach little ones about emotions than the Amuki, the inhabitants of Wonderdal Edutainment Centre. Timpa, Guardian Of Care is always ready to help anyone in need, teaching about caring and understanding. The next time you’re at Wonderdal, give a special little wave to Timpa (and all the other Amuki too!).
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The Amuki & Wonderdal Team
We look forward to sharing the wonders and magic of Wonderdal with you and your children. Wonderdal is a space where kids can explore, discover and experience a world of wonders in science, biology and nature. We hope this blog inspires you and your kids to be curious, to play and to discover the wonders of our world, together.
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