When it comes to parenting, there are few subjects more daunting than the ones that have to do with emotions.
It's one thing to tell a child not to hit or bite another on the playground; it's something else entirely when they start feeling sad or angry at home.
And while some people might be tempted to just say "No!" and send them off into their bedroom for ten minutes of solitary punishment, this will only make things worse in the long run.
Instead, parents need to focus on understanding what their children are going through emotionally so they can help them get back on track.
After all, kids don't know how make sense of their feelings without some guidance from us adults who love them unconditionally.
Here are six big emotions that all kids experience at one time or another, and some tips on how to talk about them:
Anger is a perfectly natural emotion, and it's something that we should never try to suppress.
In fact, it's important for children to learn how to express their anger in a healthy way.
This might mean taking a few deep breaths and counting to ten before reacting, or maybe walking away from a situation until they feel calm enough to come back to deal with it.
It's also helpful to have some phrases that your child can use when they're feeling angry, like "I'm mad right now" or "I need some time alone".
Once they've calmed down, it's time to have a longer chat - children need to know that it's okay for them to be upset and that we understand why they're feeling the way they do.
We can then help them figure out where their anger might be coming from and how they can avoid letting it get the best of them.
Sadness can be difficult for children to deal with, especially if they don't understand what's happening to them.
It's important to let them know that it's okay to feel sad, and that there are plenty of ways to deal with those feelings.
Some children might want to talk about their sadness, while others might prefer to write in a journal or draw pictures.
It's also a good idea to provide them with some activities that can make them feel better, like taking a walk outdoors or listening to music.
Most importantly, we should always be there for our children when they need us.
If they seem like they're really struggling, it might be a good idea to seek professional help.
Fear is another emotion that can be tough for children to deal with, especially if it feels like it's constantly coming at them from all angles.
The best way to help your child deal with their fears is by acknowledging them and then providing reassurance.
This might mean telling them that they're safe, or it might mean suggesting ways that they can handle their fear, like not watching scary movies or keeping the light on at night.
It can also be helpful to create a list of all of the things your child is afraid of, and then work through them one by one, providing them with coping strategies for each one. For example, if they're afraid of the dark, you might agree to leave on a nightlight or turn on an extra light when they get home from school.
Even small children get embarrassed sometimes and, while it can be tough to deal with (at least for us adults), it's important to let your kids know that there is nothing wrong with how they feel.
This might mean having a discussion about what has made them feel embarrassed so you can provide guidance in the future.
It's also important to reassure them that they're not alone in how they feel, and that even grownups get embarrassed sometimes.
After all, everyone messes up at least once in awhile - it's what makes us human!
Children are often hard on themselves when they make mistakes or do something wrong, and this is where guilt comes in.
It's important to help kids understand that feeling guilty is normal, but that it doesn't mean they have to act on those feelings.
This might mean telling them that it's okay to make mistakes and that we still love them no matter what.
We can also help them come up with a plan for making things right, such as apologising to the person they hurt or doing something to make up for their mistake.
It's also important to remind them that we all make mistakes sometimes, and that it's not the end of the world.
Jealousy is another difficult emotion to deal with, but it's something that all children will experience at one time or another.
The best way to deal with jealousy is to talk about it openly, and to help your child understand that there is nothing wrong with feeling this way.
It might also be helpful to provide them with some examples of healthy and unhealthy jealousy, so they can better identify these feelings when they arise in the future.
Why It's Important to Discuss Emotions with Our Children
Children who learn how to deal with their emotions when they're young are likely to have an easier time when they get older, especially when it comes to interacting with others.
It's also important for us adults to talk about these kinds of things because we all experience emotions in one way or another.
Being able to identify and express our feelings is a good thing—it means we can work through them in a healthy manner and move on with our lives.
How We Can Help Our Children Deal With These Emotions
Teaching children to deal with their emotions in a positive and healthy way isn't always easy, but there are plenty of ways that parents can help their children cope.
Here are some pointers:
- Avoid suppressing your own emotions around your kids. This can send the message that it's not okay to feel a certain way, and it can make it difficult for them to trust their own feelings in the future.
- Help them identify their emotions. This can be done by asking questions like: "What are you feeling?" or "What's going on?" It might also be helpful to provide some labels for different emotions, so kids have a better understanding of what they're feeling.
- Encourage them to express their emotions in a healthy way. This might mean talking about their feelings, writing in a journal, drawing pictures, or simply taking a walk outdoors.
- Help them find ways to deal with their emotions. This could involve providing comfort and reassurance, suggesting some activities that can make them feel better, or helping them brainstorm ways to handle certain feelings when they arise in the future.
- Set a good example for your kids by managing your own emotions in healthy ways. If you're able to do this, then it will be easier for them to follow your lead.
Having these kinds of conversations with our children is important because it helps them deal with their emotions in a positive way whilst also equipping them with information that will serve them well throughout their lives.
We all know how hard it can be to manage our emotions sometimes, even as adults, and so if we raise children who are better equipped for this task than we are, then everyone wins.
What Happens When We Don't Discuss Emotions with Our Children
If we don't talk about emotions with our children, they might not be able to identify them when they experience them - this can lead to all sorts of issues in adulthood, including problems with relationships and difficulty managing emotions in a healthy way.
Children who don't learn how to deal with their emotions effectively might also be predisposed to struggle with things like depression or anxiety later on in life and therefore, it's really important for us as parents to have these conversations with our children, even if it is difficult at times - it's worth it in the long run (for them and for you).
In this post, we've discussed 6 big emotions to talk about with your little ones.
We hope you'll find these tips helpful in your future parenting journey!
Just remember that when you're talking with children of any age and they show a certain emotion, it's always best to validate their feelings by asking questions or giving them space for reflection.
Now, go out there and be an awesome parent!