how to help your child express their feelings

How To Help Your Child Express Their Feelings

At any stage of life, shedding tears is a typical response to feeling overwhelmed by intense emotions such as anger, fear, stress, or even joy. However, some children tend to cry more frequently than their peers. 

These same kids may also exhibit higher levels of anger, quicker frustration, and heightened excitement compared to their counterparts. The capacity to manage strong emotions is closely tied to age and developmental stages

Sometimes, experiencing emotions intensely is simply a fundamental aspect of an individual’s personality. For these children, navigating life with these significant emotions might pose some challenges unless they acquire the skill of emotion regulation. While this ability naturally develops over time, there are proactive ways you can assist your child in building emotional awareness and adopting healthy coping mechanisms. Here are a few tips on how to help your child express their feelings.

How to help an overwhelmed child manage big feelings

Teach Your Child About Emotions

Encouraging your child to identify and articulate their emotions is crucial. Begin teaching them about various emotions so that they realise feelings, even those that may seem vague or overwhelming, have specific names.

Take a moment to express observations like, “You seem sad right now,” or “I can sense that you are upset.” Share your emotions as well by saying, “I feel saddened that we can’t visit Grandma today,” or “I’m surprised by how loud those boys were today.”

Engaging in discussions about emotions can also involve characters from books or TV shows. Occasionally, prompt your child with questions such as, “How do you think this character is feeling?” With consistent practice, your child’s ability to label their emotions will develop.

The cultivation of emotional awareness is a powerful tool for children to build mental strength, enabling them to navigate deep emotions with resilience.

Balance Emotions and Behaviour: Expressing Feelings Appropriately 

It’s really important for kids to pick up skills that help them handle stress and express their feelings in ways that are considerate of others. Engaging in behaviors such as raising one’s voice in a store, consistently expressing dissatisfaction, or exhibiting tantrums would not support their choices and will not lead to clear expression of their feelings.

Stress management for kids teaches the youngsters that even if they feel anger towards someone, it doesn’t justify resorting to physical aggression. Similarly, being upset about the unavailability of their favourite ice cream at the store can be communicated in a positive expression. This will not only result in good behaviour but also help communicate their feelings. Over time, this type of management will teach your child how to develop emotional control. 

It’s crucial to address inappropriate behaviour while respecting and acknowledging the emotions behind them. Instead of disciplining emotions, focus on behaviour. Helping children express their feelings in appropriate way will lead them to be better communicators, good leaders and confident individuals.

Build Empathy and Emotional Resilience in Children 

Parents may unintentionally downplay a child’s emotions by saying things like, “Stop getting so upset. It’s not a big deal,” which can convey the message that their feelings are invalid. It’s crucial to recognise that all feelings are acceptable, even if they might seem disproportionate.

Whether your child is experiencing anger, sadness, frustration, embarrassment, or disappointment, try to label and acknowledge their emotions. Show empathy by demonstrating an understanding of how they feel.

Instead of saying, “I know you are mad; we aren’t going to the park today,” which might come across as a bit stern, opt for a more empathetic approach. Say, “I understand you are upset about not going to the park today. I feel angry too when I can’t do things I want to do.” Adding this extra layer reinforces to your child that everyone experiences these emotions occasionally, even if the frequency or intensity varies.

Simultaneously, guide your child to understand that emotions are transient and the way they feel in the moment won’t necessarily endure, perhaps lasting only a few minutes.

Show acceptance

It’s common to encounter challenges in responding to highly emotional children, and feeling a bit bewildered or overwhelmed is completely normal.

Even if you’re unsure about the reasons behind your child’s emotions, offering acknowledgment that you understand they are navigating through some feelings can be reassuring—and that’s perfectly fine.

Children need to develop the ability to recognize, comprehend, and manage their emotions, and feeling acknowledged and accepted in their emotional state can make a significant difference.

Some may label overly emotional kids or presume that their sensitivity is something that needs fixing. However, not only can such labels be potentially hurtful, but they are also inaccurate. Crying, expressing anger, and feeling frustrated are not negative behaviours, nor are they indications of weakness.

Every individual has a unique temperament, and sensitivity is just a part of your child’s personality. It’s essential to communicate to your child that you fully accept them for who they are.

The Right Moment To Seek Help 

While the process of learning emotional regulation typically commences in one’s toddler years, research indicates that significant control over it may not fully develop until around the age of 8 or 9. Consequently, it’s quite possible for even children who are not naturally prone to being overly emotional to go through phases where tears are frequent or angry outbursts become more apparent.

Since these emotional swings are frequently a natural part of the process of growing up, it is beneficial to speak with your paediatrician to rule out any possibility of underlying causes, like an undiagnosed ear infection, another illness, or any signs of anxiety disorders. This becomes particularly crucial for your child, who is small in stature and has difficulties communicating effectively. 

It is wise to consider getting professional medical assistance if your child’s emotions start to significantly interfere with their day to day activities. For example, if they cry out all the time, face difficulties concentrating in the classroom, and aren’t able to manage their anger in ways that impair their friendships. 

Conclusion

So, we’ve been on a journey to help kids handle big feelings, and guess what? It’s like being a guide for them through a maze of emotions. Remember, it’s totally okay for kids to feel all sorts of things – big or small. Our job, as the grown-ups, is to make them feel comfortable sharing those feelings. Using nice words, listening, and understanding are like our superhero tools.

Being there for our kids when they’re overwhelmed is not a one-time thing; it’s a continuous adventure. We want them to know they’re seen and heard. So, let’s keep creating a cosy space where their feelings are welcome. Together, we’re not just helping them deal with emotions; we’re showing them they’re not alone in this cool journey of figuring out who they are.



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