Happiness, fear, sadness, shame, anger, and love. Disgust, jealousy, anxiety, excitement, longing, and frustration. These are some of the emotions and feelings that children experience from their very first years of life. And it can be a real challenge to learn to live with so many different sensations! With that in mind, do you know how to teach your child to deal with emotions? Check out the text below and find out how to help little ones to better understand their feelings!
How can we talk about the feelings with children?
To learn how to deal with emotions, children need to have conversations about their feelings with fathers, mothers, and caregivers. For this reason, it is important that adults know how to conduct these conversations and present each of the emotions to children, according to the stages of child development.
Furthermore, adults can introduce this theme little by little into children’s daily lives, such as through children’s books. After all, stories stimulate the little ones to identify the feelings of the characters and reflect on them.
Why is it important to work on emotions and feelings with children?
The work and care with the feelings of children is important, because childhood, like all stages of life, is composed of a palette of numerous feelings. The child will experience joy, anguish, tranquility, sadness, anger, etc. An attentive look at each one of these varied feelings is fundamental.
When can we start social and emotional work with our children?
Socio-emotional work should happen constantly, at every moment of the children’s lives. And the way we welcome them each time is significant. How do I, as a mother or father, perceive my child’s cry? Is it hunger, cold, or pain? What made him/her feel angry? Was it what was done to him/her, what was said, had something happened that day, before the episode in which he/she felt anger?
The attention and subsequent translation of affections by the carers should start from birth or from the first meeting with a certain child, in a singular way. We understand the countless affective tones through different channels: by words, by the way we are touched, looked at, by the way, we are present or absent, by the tone of our voice, by body expressions. Even a baby is sensitive enough to understand, in its own way, people’s affection towards him! Therefore, socioemotional work should be reflected and taken care of at every moment, from the beginning of the children’s lives.
How can we teach our children to deal with emotions?
Our current historical time is ruled by the logic of production: we are constantly living under the feeling of being behind in relation to work, to daily functions, to the physical exercises we should be doing. The demand is enormous, in the name of a life that should be productive, healthy, balanced, and happy. The Korean philosopher Byung-Chul Han deals more deeply with this panorama in the book “The Burnout Society“.
With all these dynamics on the scene, it is common for us to leave the essential aside: quality time with our children. Are we available to really look at how the child feels, in the most diverse daily situations? Is school making them excited or sad? Which situations make your children happy or bored? What games do your children play? What are the children interested in?
To teach children to deal with their emotions, we need to perceive them carefully and truly. To do this, we need quality time. And we define quality time as being really present during the time spent with the child. Often, we believe that presence means being close, when in fact, it is the way we are in the relationship that matters.
What are the benefits of social and emotional education for children?
Feelings invade us. That is, we do not control or choose what we feel. They affect us involuntarily. Despite not choosing, an adult look, attuned to the affections of children, can help first to identify, then name the feelings with them. And then work together on what to do based on what they feel. What bothers you? What do you think you can do about it? What are the consequences of your choice?
A child who identifies his own feelings begins to have space to receive what he feels. And to choose in a better way what to do with what arrives. They don’t necessarily act impulsively and destroy, for example. And she can protect herself more! This way of relating to children is a channel for the perception of uniqueness, a way for the child to understand what touches him and how.
How can parents support social and emotional work with children?
Reading is a powerful path of discovery for children. Through it, they identify or not with characters, they learn to understand others and with that, they learn about themselves.
Another important point in relation to caring for children’s emotions is knowing how to share fun and happy moments with children, as much as knowing how to identify frustrations, sadness, and anger. This is because childhood, like any other period of life, is made up of many feelings, as mentioned before.
It is common for some parents to be little present during the week, or for a few hours a day. So, in certain situations of frustration suffered by children, parents end up obeying their children’s wishes. There are many reasons: because they feel guilty for their own absences; because they believe the child should always be happy and fulfilled; because they feel sorry for certain suffering; or because they understand that the child is unable to deal with a certain situation.
However, children need limits, and sustaining some of their frustrations, without obeying all their wishes is quite important (and takes work). I exemplify with common everyday situations: wanting to stay longer at a party, wanting to buy more than one toy at the same time (while parents can only buy one), knowing how to fall down and get up, keeping agreements, etc.
There are fathers and mothers who spare their children in these situations and end up raising people who will not have the emotional resources to deal with difficult situations in life. No is also love. Welcoming when necessary is also essential.