In the article Thirteen Life Skills Every Child Should Be Taught, first skill we discussed about was “How to manage emotions”. This article shows how parents can help child manage feelings.
As human beings we experience variety of emotions. Feelings are part of us. It is necessary to know and manage emotions to lead healthy life. knowing feeling words help you in day to day life.If we understand feelings, we can regulate it. That helps us to act wisely. Click To Tweet
If we want to change the behavior of child, we need to help him to understand and express their emotions.
Let us see an example.
After few seconds, grandma asked, “What happened?”
The child whose name was Karen answered between the sobs, “I threw mummy’s phone.”
“I was angry.”
By now, Karen had stopped crying and was sitting on his grandma’s laps.
“What do you do when you are angry?”
Karen who was clearly taught what to do started taking deep breath. Grandma and child took deep breaths. The child, of course was not in control of his breath.
“I am bad,” Karen said, “I threw mummy’s mobile.”
“Why did you throw mummy’s mobile?” Grandma asked.
“I wanted to play game. Mummy said no.”
“What could you have done?”
Grandma started tapping her finger on the temple.
This was the sign for the child. He copied his grandma and started tapping his finger on the temple and replied, “Think of an idea!”
“Yes, think of an idea!”
Both kept repeating the gesture. Grandma said, “What to do, what could you have done. Think of an idea, sirji!”
Karen started enjoying this game.
“Idea!” Karen said, “I could play with my computer!”
“Yipee!” grandma shouted cheerfully, “yippee, yippee! Smart boy!”
Karen started dancing.
“You can play with your computer (he had toy computer) or toys or draw. There are so many things to do. When mummy allows, only then you can play with her mobile.” Said grandma
Karen sat on her lap again.
“What to do when you feel angry?” Grandma asked patting Karen’s hair.
Karen was in his proper senses now. He did what grandma had taught him many times. He sat in a meditative posture, took deep breath and said om…
what we need to teach children about emotions.
- Identifying and naming feeling words. We need to teach children about various emotions.
- We have spectrum of emotions. We feel frustrated, overwhelmed, humiliated.Naming emotion reduces negative emotion.
- These emotions are trying to convey us something. What is the emotion trying to convey us?
- Cause of experiencing these emotions. Understanding which situation gives rise to the particular feeling.
- Do not suppress emotions. How to express emotions.
- Accepting emotions. If we feel particular way, doesn’t mean we are bad but you can not act on every emotion.
- The child should feel safe to show his feelings so that we can guide him to act in an appropriate way to manage emotions.
- Healthy way of managing emotions. What to do when you feel that way.
How to Express Feelings
- Use specific feeling words.
- Degree of feelings. I am little annoyed is better than I am very angry.
- Using “I feel..” for example I feel annoyed that you didn’t let me play with you.
Healthy Feeling Management Techniques
- Taking deep breath. Children as young as 2 can be taught to take deep breaths for few moments.
- Learn that if you say mean things, you regret later. So, take time, calm down before expressing your feelings.
- Muscle Relaxation Exercise. From neck muscle to hands and feet, pull each muscle and let go. This has calming effect on the mind.
- Help him find the solution of a problem.
Be specific. Decide in advance how the child will behave next time same problem occurs.
For example, if somebody shouts at me, I will tell the teacher.If I feel sad, I will listen to my favorite music.
If I feel angry, I will count from 1 to 10, take deep breaths before I say something.
- Help child to see the connection between thought, feelings and behavior. You can teach the child to change thought to change the emotions.
Feeling positive about oneself helps the child feel good.
As the child grows, he stops confiding in parents or is unaware of his feelings. Parents are confused. Is my child not playing with the other children because he is shy or is he introvert? Should I force him to play or let him be?
Emotion Regulation is difficult concept to teach.
For this reason, it is important to do some activities to help child express their feelings in a fun way. This way we can be in touch with the day to day experience of the child.
Children love to play cards. I have helped many children with Feelings Playing Cards by Jim Borgman Pulitzer Prize Winner fun card game. There is up to 15 feeling games you can play with these cards which children really enjoy.
Parents will love to play this family game. This gives an opportunity to bond, know what is going on in children’s life and have fun time.
If you are a counselor, this game is your assessment and behavior modification tool. They are very sturdy cards and can be used again and again.