It can be easy for adults to manage and discuss their emotions, whether it’s with a friend, family member, councilor or internally, because they’ve had years of experience. Children, on the other hand, don’t have the necessary experience in dissecting their emotions. They need to be taught, as you once were, what the different types of emotions are, what they mean and how they can cope with them. It’s easy to disregard a child’s feelings, but in order for them to develop the right mindset to deal with those feelings later in life, discussing emotions with your child needs to start now.
Reassure the Normalcy of Emotions
Everyone feels happiness, sadness, anger, anxiety and many other emotions at some point in their life. In the moment it can seem as though no one could ever feel the way you or your child does, but it’s important to teach them that everyone goes through different emotions. It will encourage them in thinking that they’re not alone, which can be a major factor in dealing with negative emotions.
Explain the Fluidity of Emotions
Both good and bad emotions come and go as the days or weeks go on, which is something children might not understand. They might think that the anger or sadness they’re experiencing will go on for a long time, forever in some cases, if you don’t explain to them how fluid emotions actually are. It’s vital that they know that difficult emotions will go away with time, as it can help them bounce back to a happier state much faster.
Provide Different Coping Methods
There are many different ways for adults to cope with difficult emotions, but for children it might be a good idea to try and anticipate whatever emotion they might experience later on and prepare for it. For example, if your child struggles with social anxiety but wants to go to their friend’s birthday party, talk to them about how to deal with any anxiety that might come up during the party. That could mean finding a
quiet spot to breathe for a few minutes to avoid a potential meltdown. Find out what works best for your child to help in dealing with difficult emotions.
Read Books Together About Feelings
Children can learn a lot about the real world from reading books, emotions being one of them. If your child is going through some unfamiliar emotions or has trouble understanding other emotions, find books and stories that can help them. Focus on topics that are related to the situation at hand, making sure the material is at a reading level that your child can understand.
Point Out Other People’s Feelings
While it might seem surprising, children can actually be quite in tune with other people’s emotions. If they see someone crying, then they might go over there with their favourite toy or food to try and make that person smile. While you might want to protect them from the negative emotions of others, don’t try to hurry them away from someone who’s having a bad day for one reason or another. Instead, use it as a teaching moment by asking your child what they think the other person is feeling and why.