A 4-step Guide to helping your child understand and deal with his or her emotions

Nov 12, 2022 11:00 PM ET

Before parents or caregivers start jumping right in to help their kids deal with their emotions, it’s important to remember one critical fact: Children feel and express emotions differently. Even among siblings or close friends attending Potomac elementary school, it’s possible that two children feel and react differently to the same situation – for instance, how they feel having to share toys, or not getting to sit in their favorite seat. 

The Emotions Playbook

Understanding this fact is critical to how you implement the recommendations in this post. In fact, you’ll need to tailor these recommendations and create your own unique playbook, depending on your child’s personality.  

1. Name it: Children may not always know how to express their emotions, nor do they know the meaning of the feelings they’re going through.   It’s therefore vital for adults to help youngsters understand what it is they’re dealing with. 

For instance, when initially dropping your child at day care in Potomac MD, you may notice them not wanting to let go of you, and looking at you with wide, scared eyes. They can’t tell you this, but they’re bewildered as to why you must leave them there.  It’s okay to give them a hug, and talk to them and say: “It’s okay. I know you’re feeling sad and scared. But I’ll be back in no time, and we can go home soon!” The next time they feel sad or scared, they’ll know what that emotion feels like.

2. Teach them to express it: When adults know how their child feels, they can do something about it. But if a child doesn’t know how to express what they feel, there’s only so much parents and caregivers can do to console them. It’s important, therefore, to teach your kids to express their emotions.

For instance, one strategy is to remind them what they felt on another occasion, and how they dealt with it: “Remember when you were scared at school yesterday, and how sad it made you feel? It’s okay to be sad and scared of new things and places. But when I’m scared, I close my eyes and take a deep breath. And that helps!” 

3. Don’t punish them: Even if the emotion expressed seems irrational to an adult, it’s not a good idea to yell at, punish or ridicule your kid for expressing it. Use every display of emotion to explain what they’re feeling, why they’re feeling it, and how to deal with it.

4. Encourage and praise: Each time a child talks about their emotions, praise them for doing so, and encourage them to continue talking to you (or other trusted adults) about what, how, and why they feel something.

Patience is Rewarded

Whether your child receives home care, attends kindergarten, or goes to preschool in North Potomac MD, helping your child understand his or her emotions is about patience and perseverance. Sometimes, what you might think is an expression of anger, may actually be his/her way of showing disappointment. So, it’s always a good idea to talk to your child before you bring out your playbook to start dealing with an expressed emotion.  The rewards are immense!

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