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Teaching Your Children How To Express Their Emotions

Updated: Mar 20, 2022

Have you ever struggled with trying to help your child regulate their emotions? What are a few phrases that you used to modify their behavior? Language like "you have nothing to be upset about" or "you're overly excited, calm down" may be said with good intentions, however can be harmful in helping your child regulate their emotions. The lasting impact of the language we use can reduce our children's ability to access the full range of their emotions.

When we encourage some feelings over others, we send a message that emotions are either "good" or "bad" versus helping our children understand that most feelings are normal. They have the power to acknowledge, examine, and decide how they want to experience their emotions.

In Episode Two of Notes From A Child Psychologist, I discuss several ways parents and caregivers can expand their child's emotional vocabulary. You can read the highlights here, and don't forget to tune into the episode for more tips and resources.

Experience is the best teacher.

When we are allowed to have full access to all of our emotions as a child, we begin the journey of understanding ourselves. Parents and caregivers of children and adolescents teach their children how not to judge their emotions. In this week's episode, I share several tips and some language that you can use to encourage your child to explore what they are feeling without judgment.

Don't judge - but provide a label.

Labeling your child's emotion isn't the same as assigning it to a category of "good" or "bad." We can increase a child’s emotional vocabulary by helping children to label their emotions (e.g. sad, mad, etc). The goal is to teach children how to express what they feel so that they will have the tools to examine their emotions in the future.

Validate the emotion

I know what you are thinking when I suggest that you allow your child to feel their emotions. I'm sure images of children falling out in grocery stores having tantrums about being told no come to mind or my favorite scenario pre-teens slamming doors when told to turn off their favorite game.

Giving your child a moment to be upset, labeling the emotions, and acknowledging why they are upset or disappointed can undoubtedly follow a deeper conversation about what is causing their feelings.

By giving our children the vocabulary to express their emotions, we are opening the pathways to help them regulate their feelings, leading to their future actions. To listen to the full podcast episode, click here and share your takeaways in the comments - and while you're there, subscribe!


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