How To Help Children Express Their Feelings
It is often hard for kids to express or communicate their feelings on their own. This can be because they don’t know what they feel or because they just don’t know how to express it. The inability to express what they feel can become quite a disturbing experience for your kid as they grow older. This can become troublesome if they carry it through adulthood, which can cause great emotional and mental stress.
The good thing is, as parent you can help your kids communicate what they feel. By doing so, you help them understand what they feel and understand themselves. The following are helpful tips that you can follow:
Show genuine interest and listen attentively to what they say. When your child approach you because they want to talk or when you can see that something is wrong, make yourself avail to listen to them. Try to set aside what you’re doing and pay attention to them. Let them describe what they feel or express what they want to say, seeing you listening intently to them can be rewarding for them. This will show them that they can trust you to listen and give importance to what they say.
Respect and accept the feelings of your child. As your child expresses or describe what they feel, try not to judge what they are saying. Respect and accept what they feel. This does not mean however, that you will just let them act out according to their feeling. Like when they feel angry towards their sibling. Acknowledge that they are angry, but don’t let them vent out their anger by hitting or teasing their siblings.
Help your child hear what they are saying. Oftentimes, negative feelings like anger, frustration, etc. are being told with exaggeration. Try to restate or rephrase what your child says to you once in awhile. This can allow them to realize what their situation is and how they’re options in coping with it. However, never use the exact words that your kids have used when talking to you.
Help them identify what they feel by naming it. In order for your kid to understand what they feel, you must help them identify what it is. Provide a name for their feeling so that they may know what they are experiencing. You can identify their feelings through the situation or by the way they describe it. You can say “I guess you’re angry because he took your toy without permission” or “you must be sad because your friend is moving somewhere else”.
There are different feelings that your kids may describe. Let them finish what they say before concluding and taking a guess of what you think they feel. Allow them to help you identify what they truly want to express.
Offer to give them advice, suggestions and assurance afterwards. When you offer an advice or assurance to your kids, this will let the feel that you’re really interested in helping them. However, make sure that you do this only after your child has explained what they feel and you have helped them identify what it is. Doing these things before your child has finished or before you have identified the real cause, can hamper your child’s ability to communicate their feelings.
Allow them to express negative feelings towards you. There are times in which your child may become angry, mad, frustrated, etc. because of something that you have done. This can include situations like not letting them go with their friends, scolding them, etc. Let them express their feelings and tell you how angry they are at you because of something that you did.
However, never tolerate verbal abuses like name calling, swearing or acting out. Explain to them that they are free to express what they feel, but they can’t act it out or verbally abuse you. Also, be firm in enforcing your rules.