Teaching Your Child to Understand Strong Emotions

By Alek S.

One thing that a lot of adults tend to forget about growing up is how extreme emotions could feel at time. Children tend to feel things very strongly, and don’t necessarily have the context to tell whether something is a big deal or not. Because of this fact, strong emotions can often bubble up in children, and cause them to engage in behavior that could be harmful or destructive. For this reason, it is the responsibility of parents to recognize these issues that their children are having, and to teach them how to work through and understand those strong emotions. Here are some tips on how to teach this to your child…

Teach them to apply logic to their emotions

Children have a tendency to operate strictly off of emotion. This is just how children are. While they can be remarkably observant, they just don’t have the context of a longer life to have witnessed logic in action, as much. Because of this, it’s important to communicate with your child (calmly, might I add), and ask them to really think about why they feel a certain way. When children begin to put motivations to their emotions, it becomes easier for them to see a bigger picture and realize that they might be overreacting to something, or at least they’ll understand why they have such strong feelings.

Don’t downplay their emotions

One of the worst things you can do is downplay these emotions and make your child feel like these feelings don’t matter. Yes, they may be acting absurd, or might be overreacting to something that is really such a small problem. But the feelings that they are feeling are very real. Address those feelings, as such, and make sure that they understand that you really do care what they are feeling, and want to help them figure out how to handle those emotions. This teaches children to tackle their emotions, head-on and in a productive way, rather than burying them deep down where they can forget about them.

Tell them when you feel a certain way

While children don’t always do what their parents say, or follow their parents’ advice directly, they are always watching and listening. Children pick up on so many cues that their parents never really intended the to learn from. It’s why people have such a tendency to inherit their parents’ mistakes. Because of this fact, be mindful that they pick up emotional intelligence by watching you.
Whenever you are feeling incredibly strong emotions about something, do the same thing that you tell them to do, and communicate with them about why you feel this way, and why you are reacting the way you are. This helps put context to certain emotions. If you feel like you don’t want to explain the reason you are acting a certain way to your child, then the reality is that your emotions are probably very childish, in that moment.

Show them coping skills for problematic emotions

When you are a child and you feel something so strongly, it can be difficult to really know what to do about it. They just haven’t developed the coping skills to deal with such strong feelings, yet. It’s up to you, as the parent, to show them how they can cope with these strong feelings, and that they can work through their emotions in a positive way. This is especially something to worry about when the emotions can lead to problematic behavior, and cause your child to be destructive.

Teach them to recognize emotion in others

Emotional intelligence is a highly important skill for children to learn, as it teaches them how to be social and how to have empathy for other human beings. Start to teach them how to recognize emotion in other people, early on. You can do this by showing them how to recognize certain emotions in the media that you watch together, or by pointing out the ways that they’ve made another person feel (whether that is another child that they play with, or another member of the family.


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