How to Help Preschoolers with Their Feelings: 4 Steps
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Preschool children must learn to work out their feelings verbally.

Imagine not understanding the emotions you feel or having a way to express them clearly. These limitations occur for preschoolers who need further emotional development. In these crucial years, parents need to explore various emotions with their preschool children along with developing strategies for kids to express the ways they feel. Having the ability to convey feelings aids preschoolers in social and emotional development, further preparing them for a successful kindergarten transition.


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    Preschool children naturally experience sadness, excitement, jealousy, anger, fear and many other feelings they don't always know how to express. Parents help by acknowledging these emotions and encouraging children to communicate them, providing an open mind and understanding nature. Rather than ignoring or even forbidding certain emotions, ask your child to explain how he feels and why. By doing this, you expand his emotional awareness and let him know that fluctuating feelings occur in everyone. Parents should also express their own emotions in simple phrases that children can understand and relate to. For example, you might let your child know that you feel disappointed in his behavior or proud of his accomplishments.
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    Long, drawn-out conversations about feelings prove too serious and mundane for preschool children. Preschoolers learn best through play, so why not make emotional development playful? The classic song, "If You're Happy and You Know It," takes kids through a range of emotions and reactions in an upbeat and interactive way. Sing this song with your child, but include new emotions such as, worried, silly, excited, disappointed and jealous to broaden her vocabulary. You can also take familiar fingerplays, such as "This Little Piggy" or "Where is Thumbkin," and change the words so that each digit represents a new emotion.
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    Most preschool picture books deal with feelings in one form or another. While some books focus entirely on feelings, others tell relatable stories that involve different emotions. When reading stories to your child, stop and review what types of feelings the characters may have. Asking thought provoking questions, such as, "How do you think that made her feel?" will prompt your child to examine emotions in himself and those around him. Puppets also serve as useful role models in identifying and communicating feelings. Make some puppets at home with socks or paper bags and act out skits involving a range of emotions. Preschool children easily focus on puppet shows, finding them silly and entertaining.
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    As preschool children navigate the world and get used to different feelings, they will have trouble with self-control. Rather than discussing anger or excitement, a preschooler may throw a tantrum or squeal loudly with joy. You can work through situations like these by discussing with your child appropriate behaviors for different feelings. Give examples of appropriate responses, such as communicating fears rather than crying or bottling them in. Most importantly, model appropriate emotional responses by calmly communicating with your child when frustrated, as opposed to yelling or losing your temper.

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Categories: Education and Communications

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