Talking to young children about how to understand, express and handle their emotions can be tricky, especially when the are little and aren’t able to use their words. Sitting down a 2 year old after an angry episode in the middle of the hiking trail can be a challenge. We are working with our two year old to help him express his emotions better and thought this tips from emotional intelligence expert Rosie Linder would help you as much as they help me!
- Make it comfortable and fun. It’s not easy to get your toddler to sit down and even harder to talk about feelings and empathy. Try to make it engaging and playful, by for instance playing a game outside, using different tools like apps or simply use crayons and draw your thoughts and feelings. That way it’s easier to explore your children’s innermost thoughts.
- Example: Start by discussing how to express different emotions; Happiness, Anger, Greed, Fear. Draw the feelings together on different pieces of paper. If you’re feeling creative you can even create a Feelings Tree.
- Make sure not to judge. All emotions are allowed when you’re discussing different scenarios or issues your children have experienced. For instance, they might have gotten into a fight over a toy and accidentally hit one another. Now this behavior is obviously not ok, but it’s ok to be angry. It’s a matter of how we can control and express our feelings.
- No right or wrong. We can make different choices depending on our mood or how we feel. Neither is wrong but it’s important to show the consequences of one’s choices.
- Confirm your child’s emotions. This is good to keep in mind in any situation. For instance, when your child is angry, sad or afraid it helps if you say “I can see that you are angry and that’s ok. But it’s not ok to throw your toys at your sister/brother.”
Talking to children about their emotions and helping them build up their ability to be emotional intelligent has proven to reduce bullying, live happier lives, improve test scores, and create greater success later in life through their jobs and personal lives.
What have you found as a good way to talk to kids about their emotions?