Have you had a moment where your child has what seems to be the grandest meltdown, right there, with your cart full of groceries, in the middle of the grocery store, and you take a moment to think, do I quickly check out because I need the groceries for dinner, or leave and help your child process what they’re? Or maybe you have a child who seems to ‘flip out’ and throw a punch or a pillow at another sibling who greets them coming into the room? Have you ever experienced the ultimate meltdown at what seems to be the most inopportune time? Who has sent their child to their room or placed them in time-out to think about their behavior, but this never seems to work? You’re not the only parent who has had this happen to you! There’s also good news: you can help your children with expressing their emotions in a healthy way!
It’s important for parents to help their children to recognize their emotions. Playing detective is the first step in helping your child to recognize their emotions. You might have to figure out how your child is feeling and where these emotions are coming from. Depending on where your child is at, you may be the one who is leading a conversation about their emotions. It’s also important to help your child to put a name to how they’re feeling. One of the ways to help with this is by using the wheel of emotion, which can help pinpoint where emotions may be.
Check out the following link to see the Wheel of Emotion: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/57b7400ebe65946ef828f100/t/59ef71adedaed8e9e8b04a04/1508864431690/Feelings-Wheel-Color.pdf
Children learn by watching others. Because of this, it’s important for parents to recognize their own emotions, be conscientious of how they’re expressing their emotions, and model healthy ways to process and work through their emotions. For example, if you’re feeling anxious, you might say, ‘My stomach and muscles feel funny…this happens when I am feeling anxious. I will go for a walk because I know this helps me calm down and feel better.’
There are tools to help children learn about their emotions and how to express them. Find developmentally appropriate books, such as The Way I Feel, Millie Fierce, Breathe like a Bear and Even Superheroes Have Bad Days, to help children acknowledge emotion. Games can be useful, too, such as the Emotions Sorting Game. Other games, even if it is playing a common games like Uno and Go Fish, can help address various emotions. Movies and television shows can also be beneficial with helping children recognize emotions and how to work through those emotions in an effective way. Younger children might like Inside Out or Thomas the Train, while older children might like Harry Potter and Boy Meets World. The Wheel of Emotion and Emoji Cubes can be a great talking tool, as well, as it helps as a talking tool to pinpoint a word that correlates with a feeling.
This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Darcy Solem, LBSW