Ever wondered how to explain emotions to a child? There are probably all kinds of emotions and thoughts buzzing around in your kid’s mind, but are they talking to you about it? Very often, we assume that kids are only capable of being happy, sad, or hungry! Well, they are just as emotional as the rest of us, but they probably don’t know how to express it or what to do with it. It can get confusing for them at times, which is why teaching children about emotions is necessary, and it’s important to allow kids to accept and deal with their emotions from a young age. Let’s look at a few ways to explore this.
Read them bedtime stories every night. All characters in a fairy tale or storybook have distinct personalities. There are the happy ones, angry ones, sad ones, and jealous ones, pretty much like Snow White’s dwarfs. The child will learn that there are all sorts of feelings that one can feel, and the next time they are sad or angry they will be able to process it better because they are aware of its existence.
Don’t Dismiss Them
While teaching children about emotions, adults often make the mistake of dismissing children’s feelings saying that nothing stays for too long in a child’s mind and that it will eventually pass. Well, you couldn’t be more wrong. Lots of things stay in a child’s mind and if you dismiss it, they will bottle it up and you wouldn’t even know it. It’s very difficult for a child to process something without knowing what it even is. Even if they come to you with something that you consider petty, be sure to pay a listening ear and talk them through it.
Games and Activities
When you’re teaching your child to identify and express emotions, you can play charades and act out the emotion and ask your child to guess. It’s not going to have a very big effect on the child, but it will teach kids about their feelings. Next time they are jealous or sad, they’ll realize it’s something that everyone goes through, and there’s nothing wrong with them. This way, learning about emotions can be fun. There are many such preschool activities for feelings and emotions.
- Lessons Learned
Don’t dismiss what they’re feeling and don’t dismiss their actions either. If they are mean to their siblings or disrespectful in any way, start teaching them right from wrong at an early age. You could connect the other person’s feelings to the movies or storybooks. For example, if they say something mean to another kid, you could remind them that the other kid will feel bad just like how Ana felt bad when Elsa was mean to her in the movie Frozen. Kids will learn faster if they can relate it to something.
- Songs and Movies
Songs like “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands” and movies like The Lion King, Happy Feet, Finding Nemo, etc are great ways of teaching children about emotions. They will connect with the characters in the film and express their emotions. Next time they feel the same emotion, they’ll come and confide in you that they’re feeling the same way the character felt in that movie. This will allow you also to understand what they’re feeling in case they can’t be very vocal about it.
In all of these above suggestions, communication is key. Your child should be comfortable enough to come to you with anything. Only then you can address it and teach them how to cope and adjust to those feelings. There are many other ways to teach kids about their feelings like teaching them the names of the feelings, feelings/emotions activities, inculcating socially appropriate ways to deal with the feelings, having a lesson plan on feelings and emotions for preschoolers, and taking advantage of teachable moments. While teaching emotions to the kids, worksheets also help a lot in retaining the learning for the day and it will help your child learn, understand and cope with their emotions.