Help your child use her words to express herself.
Kids, like adults, have the capacity to feel all sorts of emotions. However, you'll find a bit of a difference in the delivery. As much as you’d like to have your child just say, “I’m angry right now,” it likely won't happen. Often your child might hit, bite or cry to show how she feels. You can employ a few tricks of the parenting trade to get your child to open up.
1Verbalize when you notice a change in your child’s temperament. You could say “Your frown is telling me your sad right now.” This way, you are placing a name with the feeling and showing her how to vocalize the feeling.
2Discuss your own feelings with your child and give explanations. Explain how you handle being sad or angry. For example, you could say, “I get angry when people yell at me, so I close my eyes and take deep breaths to push the anger out of my body.” Modeling appropriate behaviors and expressions will help your child learn how to do it correctly.
3Get an emotions chart or poster. These posters have identifiable faces on it to represent many different emotions. Hang it on the wall and ask your child to point to which one she feels like today. To practice, you can go through each emotion picture and act out the feeling with your child.
4Collect a pile of dress-up clothes and puppets for your child. Dramatic play is a way to encourage your child to express her feelings through play. For instance, if your child is given finger puppets and has the characters call each other names or uses mean words, this might indicate she's upset, sad or has witnessed this kind of behavior. Try playing puppets with her and see whether the interaction between the two of you can indicate her mood. Have your puppet comment on her puppet's outfit or hair and see how she responds. If her body language indicates she's feeling down or she says something like "Oh, I hate my dress," saying kind, encouraging words to her might help boost her confidence and make her feel better. This type of play can be a less invasive approach to figuring out what’s going on with your child.
5Read some books with your child to help her understand what each emotion looks and feels like. Check out “The Feelings Book: The Care & Keeping of Your Emotions” by Dr. Lynda Madison and “How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids” by Tom Rath.
6Praise your child when she does verbalize her feelings. Encouraging the use of words instead of fists will help her to understand healthful expression and coping.
Things You'll Need
- Emotion chart or poster