Kids experience the same feelings as adults do. They get annoyed, excited, embarrassed, jealous, sad, and worried. However, kids don’t necessarily have the vocabulary to communicate their feelings so they show it in other ways instead.
Children usually communicate through their behavior and body language. That’s why sometimes, they lash out or throw things when frustrated. As a parent, you could use this as a learning opportunity to teach your kid how to express themselves in a positive manner.
Here are 6 ways to teach your kids to understand and talk about their feelings:
- Create an honest and respectful atmosphere.
All of these tips become more effective if you nurture an open and sincere atmosphere in your home. It makes your family feel safe and supported. This enables them to be more open so they could share their joys and pains to you freely.
- Observe your child.
This is very crucial, especially if you have very young kids. Since they cannot communicate properly yet, it is up to the parent to notice cues in your child’s body language or behavior. Figuring out what they feel and what affects their behavior is the first step towards helping them express and manage their feelings positively.
- Ask them.
For older children and teens, you may ask them directly how they are feeling. Your kid may not necessarily give you an answer but attempting to reach out shows that you are interested and care about them.
- Give them space.
Your kids may sometimes not want to “talk about it”. Be respectful and give them space. Let your child process their emotions by themselves first. When they are ready, they will talk to you.
By giving them time to sort their emotions and encouraging them to communicate when they are ready, you are raising an emotionally intelligent child that is aware of their feelings and knows how to respect personal boundaries.
- Listen to your kid.
It is tempting sometimes to “fix” whatever it is that’s making your child feel bad. However, doing so will hinder your child’s emotional growth. Instead, show empathy and validate their feelings. Repressed emotions will often manifest in unhealthy ways.
- Use positive reinforcement.
Praise your kid whenever they communicate their emotions or express them in a healthy way, but don’t overdo it. This will not only show them that feelings are normal, but it will also encourage them to talk about it, hence they will be likely to repeat such positive behavior.
- Be a role model.
Most importantly, parents must be their kid’s first role models. Children have the tendency to mimic what they hear and see. As a parent, you have a crucial role in teaching your kids how to deal with emotions, both their own and others’.
The key to raising emotionally intelligent children is how you respond to certain situations because it will also become your kid’s reaction. Try to remain as calm and supportive as you can, even when circumstances are difficult. When children learn to cope and articulate their feelings, it will lead to positive behaviors and mindset as they grow up.
Adam McCauley is an author, motivator and speaker. With a PhD. in Martial Arts Science he runs one of the top ranked Martial Arts schools in the country and was inducted in the Martial Arts Hall of Fame in 2007. His goal is to “Build Better Bodies & Stronger Minds!” in everyone he works with.