When it comes to expressing and responding to emotions, parents are often a child’s first model of what is acceptable and in what contexts. This puts you in the perfect position to help your child develop emotional understanding!
One critical step in understanding the emotions of others is understanding one’s own emotions. To model this for your child, begin by discussing your own emotions with them and explaining why you felt the way you did in a particular situation. If the feeling is negative, narrate your thoughts on how to make the situation better.
Then, when your child is experiencing an intense emotion, ask them to identify how they feel. Or say, “I can see by the look on your face that you are very mad right now. Can you tell me what made you so mad?”
You may already have a good idea what caused the emotion, but this is an opportunity to encourage and support your child’s practice of recognizing and naming emotions as the first step towards eventually managing them. Once naming the emotion is easy, then the two of you can brainstorm about why your child is feeling that way and what they can do about those big emotions.
Next week, we’ll share a quick tip on how to enrich everyday interactions with your child to help them further develop emotional understanding in themselves and others!
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