Emotions are a part of all of us and need to express them. Healthy people know how to do that appropriately. Did you know when we teach our kids about emotional intelligence, we are also helping them manage their behavior?
The key to effectively doing this lies in the state of the parent-child relationship. It is not until they feel connected to us, loved by us and valued by us that they are going to be able to accept our attempts to teach them this life skill.
Try these tips for helping your children express their feelings.
1. Be a good role model.
You are their first teacher. The way you express your emotions will teach your children how you want them to manage theirs. “I was so excited today when I got to come and have lunch with you” or “I felt so frustrated when the repairman didn’t show up on time”.
2. Acknowledge all feelings.
By acknowledging all feelings, we’re simply naming them. This also conveys our acceptance of what they’re feeling and lets our kids know that we can handle their emotions. When they know we can handle their emotions, it makes it easier for them to do the same. Also be validating, they feel understood and when they do, they can usually resolve the issue and move on. To say, “that really upset you” “you feel really sad” “ouch, that must hurt” you are conveying empathy. Empathy means you get it and see it from their point of view.
3. Allow your child to express all emotions.
Children should never be in trouble for expressing their emotions. Listen sincerely or empathetically as they are telling you about their anger regarding a rumor a good friend was spreading or as they express their displeasure about the boundaries and consequences you put in place that they disagree with.
4. A physical release is necessary for some children.
For younger kids, give them something they can get physical with after stating the limit. “It’s ok that you’re mad at me, but I am not for hitting. Feel free to hit this pillow.” For intense older kiddos, a boxing bag in the garage is a good option.