Children sometimes have a hard time expressing their emotions the same way adults do. Often times they do not have the words to express their emotions which then causes them to act out in an aggressive manner. Head Start/Early Head Start of Beaver and Fayette Counties, programs of the Private Industry Council of Westmoreland/Fayette, Inc. works to help children better understand and express their emotions through a variety of techniques.
We accomplish this by:
- Giving children opportunities to identify emotions
- Helping them understand their emotions
- Teaching children acceptable ways to respond to their emotions
- Explaining the feelings by using words
- Supporting your child to talk about feelings and practice new strategies
We explain to children how to use their words and feelings by modeling for them. Teachers and parents are our children’s first educators and the best way to teach our children how to express their emotions is to use real life examples. “Remember yesterday when my car window would not roll up? I was feeling very angry my face got red and scrunched up”. Other great resources to use are visuals, children’s books, and discussions about their day. It is always a good idea to help guide our children in how to use calming techniques when we are upset. Deep breathing exercises, solution kits, calm down thermometers, emotions cards, and even just as simple as teaching children to ask for a hug when they are feeling upset are ways to teach calm down techniques.
In the classroom we use the same techniques as well as emotions games, calm down centers, social stories, individualized picture schedules, and tucker the turtle.
Understanding emotions is something a lot of adults struggle with, how can we ask our children to handle their emotions if we have a hard time expressing our emotions as well? One way is to try to always be aware of what you are saying and how you are reacting around children. Emotions can be overwhelming for them. Children are like sponges, they soak up everything that is around them, therefore it is how we teach them to handle a situation that is important. It is essential to validate our children’s emotions and it is also significant to remember not to punish them for their emotions. “It is ok for you to feel upset but it is not ok to hurt others when you feel this way.” Once the children gain the concept of how to react in the correct way with their emotion it is important to give them a lot of positive praise.
One of the most paramount things to remember when teaching your child calm down techniques and how to express their emotions is to not do it in the middle of an escalation. The child is not ready to listen when they are already upset. It is best to use the reason they are upset at a later date as a teachable moment.
Just remember to always model the behaviors we want to see out of our children and to express our emotions to them whether they are happy or sad.