How to Help a Child Name Their Feelings

Children are small people with very big emotions. Although they can show you what they are feeling, most children have yet to attach a name to their feelings and have not learned healthy ways of dealing with their emotions. As children grow, they face many challenges and obstacles. Therefore, it is important to promote healthy social and emotional development by helping children identify and name their feelings, and sharing methods to help them cope effectively.

 

Why should I promote emotional awareness in my child early? 

Promoting early emotional awareness helps your child work through challenges as they go through the stages of development. Also, this helps children learn to respond to different situations successfully and develop positive connections with the people around them. With emotional intelligence, children can notice, understand and act out emotions in an understandable way. Children are more likely to navigate obstacles and achieve success when they have high emotional awareness. When facing challenges, emotionally intelligent children can meet those challenges without shutting down or becoming overwhelmed or angry. As emotionally intelligent children grow into teens and adults, they can engage in healthy relationships more effectively and handle stress and challenges appropriately.

 

How do I help my child achieve a high emotional awareness?  

Here are a few tips to help improve your child’s emotional awareness:

– Morning and evening check-ins:

Check in with your child by asking them to describe their day as an animal, the weather, a movie title or a toy.

– Read and talk through books about emotions and coping: 

I recently published a children’s book titled, When I Feel: The ABCs of Naming and Coping with Daily Feelings. It is a helpful resource to help start the conversation with your child about emotional intelligence. When I Feel teaches children how to name their emotions and provides examples of methods to cope with complicated feelings. It invites children to explore emotions and recognize when they feel brave or worried or anything in between.

– Respect your child’s feelings and talk about your feelings with them:

Start by acknowledging how they feel and share a moment or scenario that makes you feel the same way.

For example, you can say, “I understand that you are frustrated, and it makes me frustrated when…”

Teach healthy and effective coping methods:

There are many ways to cope with challenging and complicated emotions, including deep breathing, counting, taking a walk, listening to music etc.

Use praise when your child engages in a healthy coping strategy:

Positive reinforcement helps your child develop these skills and make them a healthy habit.

 

Shanera Brown, LAPC, is a therapist in CHRIS 180’s School-Based Mental Health program.

To learn more about School-Based Mental Health, visit CHRIS180.org/SchoolBasedServices.

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Shanera Brown, LAPC
Shanera.Brown@CHRIS180.org
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