Helping Children Express Their Emotions in Three Simple Ways

As a parent, helping our children express their emotions is a priority. Here are 3 simple ways we can do just that.

A meltdown can be avoided by following these professional advice on assisting your child in expressing their emotions when they’re unhappy.

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It is a beautiful parenting strategy to name and validate your child’s sad feelings, but it doesn’t work on every youngster. For kids five and above who object when you ask what’s wrong or shut down when you ask, try these alternate tactics recommended by a professional psychologist (and mom of three).

1. Do not go far or be loud.

Children with perfectionist inclinations or an independent spirit may feel worse and more shamed if their parents tell them, “I see you’re mad; that’s fine,” during a tantrum. Instead, focus on being present and calm to validate and connect with your child.

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Take deep breaths and repeat a silent mantra, such as “Nothing is wrong with me. My youngster is perfectly healthy. As long as I’m able, I’ll be fine.”

Keep your conversation with your child during a meltdown free of emotional language. Try saying, “I’m right here.” To help your child learn that their feelings aren’t so frightening, focus on your self-regulation and being present for them.

By doing this, you are helping your children express their emotions.

2. Think of a way to express your most powerful feelings.

This is an excellent technique to talk to your child without making it about them specifically. “Do you ever imagine that feelings work like an elevator?” can be asked in a calm moment. 

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Assume there is one in the lobby. It ascends to the second story, then to the fourth, and finally to the roof, where it must immediately decelerate before gently descending again.

That’s how some people’s bodies function. If your child says Nothing back, don’t get discouraged. Trust that they’ve recognized your effort to comprehend, relate, and go on with your life.

3. Make it a game.

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The Rating Game is a great way to help your youngster better understand their feelings. “I’m going to ask about something that happened,” you can remark when your child has calmed down. “Let me know if it’s right by giving me a thumbs up. If it’s a mixed bag, give me a thumbs up. Thumbs down if it’s all wrong.” 

It’s always ideal to start with a silly notion to make people laugh. “You were unhappy because aliens snatched our soccer ball while playing. Or because you liked to score a goal and were annoyed when you couldn’t.”

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Never go any further when your child gives you the thumbs up. You can say, “I understand.” “Do you want me to carry on?” “To let me know, please make a thumbs-up gesture.”

Seek professional help if your child is prone to violent outbursts and meltdowns or if you feel that you and your child are trapped in an unproductive dynamic during times of high emotional intensity.