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Children gradually need help to control intensity of your emotions, but first they must learn to recognize them and understand that it is okay to feel them, that we all feel happy, angry, sad or afraid at times and that what we must do is find the best way to live our emotion so that we do not harm us or others either. Here are some tips for you, as a parent, to help children to express their emotions.
Emotions are an affective state, a personal reaction to something that happens in our environment. They are accompanied by physical changes of innate origin and are influenced by our personal experiences; in addition they fulfill an adaptive function of our organism before the environment that surrounds us.
Emotions are with us always; obviously as we grow we develop mechanisms to deal with them and control reactions that generate us, but the little ones often let them flow in much more spontaneous and natural ways.
A natural reaction in parents is to try to regulate these reactions, however, along the way we can generate a repression of them in children. Phrases such as: "You don't cry for that", "Men don't cry", "That's no reason to be afraid", "Don't shout that you're bothering others" (even if it's happiness), "It's not that bad" , they can start children to think that showing their emotions is not okay.
To repress our children too much in this sense can generate in them: withdrawal, somatization (that emotions are reflected in the form of physical discomfort), anxiety and insecurity, among others. What can we do then? Simple things like talking to them or playing games, but there is more.
- Help them identify their emotion and not disqualify it
If something has made them cry inconsolably, we can tell them that we understand that they feel that way, but that surely later they will be better and they will be able to talk; Give them your time and don't try to resolve the conflict at the time of crisis.
Once they are calm we can help them identify if they were angry, sad or afraid and give them some strategies such as taking a deep breath when it happens again, trying not to yell or say ugly things until they are calmer, because usually we can make mistakes in what we say in those moments of great emotion.
We can also talk about similar experiences we had as children and how we solved them. Under no circumstances is it good to tell them that the reason for their reaction is not valid, because for them at that time it was. Later, we can tell them that perhaps their reaction was too strong, but that they can try to react more calmly next time.
- The game of emotions
There is a very fun exercise that I have designed as part of my work with children and it consists of asking them to answer these questions about the main emotions: happiness, anger, sadness, fear, enthusiasm, etc. For example: 'How does (happiness) feel in the body?', 'If (happiness) were a dish, what dish would it be for you?', 'If it were a color, what color would it be for you?' , 'If it were an animal, what animal would it be for you?', 'If it were a thing, what would it be for you?' or 'What things make you feel (happy)?
It is a very fun exercise, the children's responses are delightful and give us a wonderful opportunity to explore with them the theme of emotions in a fun way.
- Talk about emotions through stories and movies
Reading a story or watching a movie always gives us an opportunity to reflect on the story and the reactions of the characters. We can ask them what emotion they think the protagonist is feeling, the reason why he feels that way, what he thinks about what happened and if he thinks he could have reacted differently.
- Help you find ways to feel better
Another good idea is to develop with our children a list of things that make them feel good and make them always have it available for when they are sad, angry or afraid and give them, when it is the case, ideas of possible solutions to resolve a conflict that is permanently generating a negative emotion, such as being angry with a friend in the school, get something they want, etc.
Without a doubt one of our main challenges as parents is help our children to know how to identify their emotions, not to repress them and yet to be able to respond adequately to them.
You can read more articles similar to Tips to help children express their emotions, in the category of Conduct on site.