How Can We Explain Emotions to Children?
Although it’s simpler for us, children aren’t always able to interpret their own emotions and much less those of others. With the following simple activities, you’ll be able to explain emotions to your children, and help them identify what they’re feeling and how to behave accordingly.
Emotions are internal states that are determined by sensations, thoughts, behaviors and subjective reactions. Emotions have a huge influence on our behavior and thoughts and they can be even more intense in children. That’s why it’s important to know how to teach children about their emotions.
Helping them learn how to recognize their emotions will favor positive mental development. In addition, they’ll learn how to control themselves and will also have high self-esteem which will contribute to their happiness.
Why is it important to explain emotions to children?
Studies and experience have shown that emotional education at home increases the well-being of all family members. The idea is to provide tools for your children to regulate and express their emotions without avoiding or exaggerating them.
Here are some important benefits of emotional education:
- Helps children get to know themselves and be more in control of their environment.
- Important for social development.
- Emotional education reduces aggressive behavior
- Reduces the risk of consumption of addictive substances such as alcohol and tobacco
- Emotional education minimizes antisocial and self-destructive behavior
It’s important to emphasize that emotions should be controlled but never repressed. Your children must learn how to express their emotions depending on the moment, people who surround them and the occasion.
What they should know about emotions
Children are born with emotions. However, the way they act when experiencing them is acquired behavior. The path that your children take in life could depend on how they control their emotions.
Emotions are sometimes referred to as a guide. However, it’s wise to learn how to use them. That’s why it’s so important to explain emotions to children.
The first emotions that you should work on with your children include the following:
- Anger is an emotion that children experience when they don’t get what they want. If children aren’t taught how to control this emotion, they could develop behavioral problems in the future.
- Fear is a feeling of insecurity when faced with imaginary or real dangers. At times, fear can be a positive emotion since it motivates them to act with caution. However, it should be controlled, as excessive fear can have a negative impact on children’s lives.
- Disgust is a feeling of dislike towards someone or something. Children can be disgusted by certain foods, for example.
- Sadness is a feeling of pain with a tendency to cry. It can be associated with real or imaginary loss. Losing a toy or a pet can generate sadness in little ones.
- Joy is a feeling of pleasure that can be caused by a an event, person, thing or desire. It encourages action, affection and gratitude.
- Wonder is a feeling of amazement. It helps children understand new things, it also motivates them to look for answers and solutions.
Activities to explain emotions to children
The following are practical activities that you can include in your daily routine:
- Emotional script. Write down several emotions on a piece of paper. Children should use a character or puppet to act out a story with the emotions that were previously written down. This game encourages children to express their feelings.
- Emotion detective. This activity consists of giving your children different characters from stories, shows or magazines and asking them to describe the character’s emotional state. After recognizing the emotions, the child should explain why they believe the character feels that way.
“Children are born with emotions, however, the way they act when experiencing them is acquired behavior.”
Explain emotions with music
Children develop the ability to process music from an early age. Music can even change their mood. This occurs because sounds help liberate emotional functions and repressed energy.
That’s why music can be a great tool to teach children about emotions. Select different musical genres and enjoy listening to songs with your children. After you finish listening to a song, ask them about the emotions they felt.
Provide a diary
Keeping a diary can be useful for children over the age of 6 who find it difficult to express their emotions. By using a diary, they won’t feel pressured to talk about their feelings. Little by little, they’ll learn how to express themselves freely.
Suggestions to help your children develop emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize personal emotions and the emotions of others. Having emotional intelligence can help children manage situations wisely. It’s also an important quality that contributes towards a balanced personality.
To help your children develop emotional intelligence, try the following suggestions:
- Motivate them to express how they feel.
- Help your children recognize their tastes, needs, opinions, desires and limitations.
- Motivate your children to try to resolve their own problems. Provide help for them whenever they need it by offering suggestions.
- Recognize your children’s efforts.
- Show your children how to recognize their mistakes. Help them understand that mistakes are a crucial part of learning.
- Explain to them the importance of respecting the tastes and emotions of others.
“Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize personal emotions and the emotions of others.”
Knowing how to explain emotions to your children will allow you to get to know their inner world. At the same time, it will open doors for them to get to know themselves better. This will undoubtedly contribute to their happiness and well-being.