Teaching kids about their feelings is a daily adventure that honestly, can be exhausting at times. As a therapists, I am constantly talking about how feelings are neither Good or Bad, but rather just ARE. We all have feelings, all day everyday. They change frequently and quickly. Sometimes, we just need to slow down to recognize and feel the emotion. But as like most things, it is way easier, or so we think, to focus on the positive and try to move past the “negative emotions”. I think as a parent this is one of the hardest things to do. One reason being it is very difficult to see your child experiencing something hard. The other is well, we have places to be and things to do. Let’s face it, it can be really inconvenient for a child to have a meltdown when you have to get out the door to work. We have all been there. So what do you do? Just like with anything else we teach our kids, we need to give them the words to be able to describe how they are feeling and what is happening. We need to practice daily too. Here are a few simple ways to teach your kids the words to the feelings they are experiencing.
- Talk about feelings. It is helpful to talk about a feeling in our everyday language. When asked “How are you”? Think about how you are actually feeling, instead of just automatically responding with “good”. “I am feeling happy today. I am feeling content today. I am feeling stressed today”. Using the word feeling makes it normal language in your house.
- When reading a book with your kids, acknowledge and ask questions about feelings. “How do you think he feels that that happened?” “How do you know that she feels that way?” Simple questions to help them identify feelings.
- When coloring ask questions about feelings similar to how you would in a story. “Oh, look at Superman, how do you think he is feeling?” “Brave, what makes you say that? Yes his stance is a brave stance.”
- When talking with kids, help them identify their feelings. If telling you about something that happened at school, ask “how did you feeling about that?” “I would have been really excited and would have had a hard time sitting, too”.
- Play games that include increasing feeling vocabulary. There are lots of printable’s on Pinterest such as a feeling matching game.
- I am big on movement, as it is very helpful for moving past feelings. So play a game such as “show me your brave stance”, “let’s see your angry face”, “happy face”. With older kids, you can write down the feeling and have them act it out. Don’t forget to play too. This increases the family fun time together. Get silly with it.
These are just a few simple ways to bring feelings into your home to help identify and provide the vocabulary. It doesn’t have to be a “big thing” such ask asking about every character in every book, but rather a a question here and there. Again, it makes talking about feelings normal for your home. Remember, learning about feelings is lifelong. It isn’t necessarily something we know or don’t. It isn’t like riding a bike, but something that we continue to learn through practicing. I would love to hear any ideas you have for teaching about feelings!