Teaching children to identify and cope with their emotions
On any given day, children go through many different emotions. They may feel sad, angry, exhausted, anxious and elated.
According to Kate Hurley, an adolescent psychotherapist, helping children regulate their emotions can stop them from internalising them, which in turn leads them to explode.
Parents and guardians can help kids identify with their emotions. It may take a huge amount of effort and time, but it’s doable. Here are a few ways that you can:
A feelings chart
It can be difficult for a child to identify their emotions. Hurley suggests a feelings chart could help with different faces that portray different feelings. “Be sure to point out how different parts of the face appear when experiencing different emotions (e.g. ‘down eyes’ = angry).”
You can talk about what it means to experience these differing emotions. For example, what does it mean to be surprised, or even sad?
Once you think your child has a good understanding, take pictures of them pulling the different faces. Not only is this a great activity, it can help them identify what they are feeling at any time of the day.
Buckets and beanbags!
Children also find it hard to understand what exactly causes their feelings. Hurley suggests the use of “feeling buckets” to help talk about what actions trigger the feelings.
Find five to seven plain buckets and some bean bags. Label each bucket with a feeling that your child experiences on a regular basis.
You can then explain a situation to your child, they can drop the bean bag into the bucket that best describes it. Hurley gives this example: Sarah forgot to bring her homework, and she doesn’t want to go to class. How is she feeling?
Talk about the situation and then talk about the possible solutions. So in this case, Sarah may talk to her teacher about her homework.