Raising a toddler is tough. There aren’t one-size-fits-all rules, there are no guarantees, and we don’t win any prizes when we make clever choices.
Instead we resort to trial and error when we teach and discipline our kids. We learn from the mistakes other parents make and we also rely on each other’s hard-won victories. Today, I am going to share 8 ways to teach emotions to your children.
Toddlers may be small, but they have enormous feelings that they probably have no idea how to express. In turn, they may act out (scream, hit, or bite) or retreat (cry, hide, or lie) in an effort to make sense of what they’re feeling.
As the parents, it’s not enough to be patient. We need to proactively coach our children on the concept of emotions, including explaining what they are and how to deal with them.
8 ways to teach emotions to your children
1. Model your emotions
Kids like to imitate our actions and repeat our words. They are like sponges that soak up whatever is happening around them. Knowing this, we need to be aware of our everyday behaviour, especially our interactions with others.
For example, if you swear loudly when you spill wine on your rug, your toddler will think it’s OK to swear whenever you make a mistake.
Instead, say something like, “I really wish I hadn’t spilt this because it’s going to leave a stain, but it was just an accident. Let’s see if we can make it better.”
2. Read about emotions
There are so many stories for children that focus on feelings and how to express different emotions.
When you read to your child, pay attention to these themes. There are books written about understanding emotions, sometimes even an entire book will be devoted to one feeling.
Books that teach about emotions
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- Help Your Dragon Deal With Anxiety The feelings book
- The Pigeon Has Feelings, Too!
- The way I feel
- What to Do When You Worry Too Much
- I can handle it
3. Name the emotions
Emotions are especially scary for kids because they aren’t visible, tangible things. However, if you give these feelings a name, they may begin to make more sense.
For example, the next time your little one throws his plate because you won’t give him another slice of cake, consider your reaction.
Instead of scolding (“stop that right now!”), try saying “I know you’re mad because you can’t have more cake. But throwing your plate is not going to make the mad go away.”
Another way to help your child name emotions is by showing them flashcards that have faces on them showing different emotions. Showing kids different emotions through pictures is a great way for them to recognize what emotions look like in others.
4. Notice all emotions
Kids are always watching what’s going on around them. Take advantage of this and observe how others are behaving and interacting with each other.
When you notice a woman laughing, point it out to your child and comment that she must be happy and not sad if she’s laughing so much.
Ask your toddler to point out another “happy” person. This is a great way to illustrate emotions and to highlight how people act in various social situations.
5. Play with emotions
Have you ever played “What am I Feeling?” with your little one? Take turns making different facial expressions and sounds and guessing what emotion is being portrayed. Use a mirror so your toddler can see what she looks like when she’s “mad” or “sad” or “silly.”
You could also draw faces with different emotions or use emotional flashcards to illustrate various feelings. The more you play these types of games, the sooner your toddler will be able to connect how someone looks with how they are feeling.
Tools and toys that teach emotions to children
- I Know What to Do Cards
- Mood Cards
- Mindful Games Activity Cards: 55 Fun Ways to Share Mindfulness with Kids and Teens
- Anger Management Workbook for Kids
6. Run with emotions
When you get the feeling that
Physical activity is an awesome stress reducer. Exercise may also work to calm his high emotions long enough to make sense of the current situation.
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7. Watch for emotions
One of the ways you can teach emotions to your children is by making the most out of a TV show you are watching. You can do this pointing out the range of emotions the characters are exhibiting.
Ask your child what their favourite characters do they do differently when they’re happy or when they’re sad.
Examine photographs or pictures and have similar discussions about what the different faces are revealing to us.
8. Listen for emotions
This may not be the most exciting way to teach emotions, but it’s one of the best. It’s all about being plugged in and present. Listen carefully when your toddler tries to describe what’s going on inside her head and heart.
Of course, there will be times when you’ll want to react right away, but remember that she needs to practice “talking it out.”
In their shoes
Raising a toddler sure is tough, but being a toddler isn’t always a bed of roses. As adults, we need to put ourselves in their little shoes and realize that good communication requires practice and patience.
But even before we can expect our kids to tell us how they’re feeling, we need to teach them how to identify the myriad of emotions they experience in one day.
In the comments below, share the ways you teach your child about emotions. Please share this post with others. Thank you.
Thank you Samara Kamenecka for being our guest blogger today. You can find her at www.tinyfry.com.