Feelings are complicated and for this reason it is difficult to comprehend and express them appropriately, especially when we are quite young. It is an abstract concept that cannot always be distinguished as they are very subjective in the way they are experienced and expressed by each one of us.
However, the sooner we introduce children to the entire palette of feelings the easier it is for them to gradually learn to identify, express and eventually manage them appropriately. Studies have shown that children who started to understand the range of their feelings from a young age are less likely to be aggressive, have temper tantrums or defiance, as they are the feelings that affect our reactions.
Emotional regulation is about teaching children identify their emotions, understanding the implications of how these feelings are expressed and, finally, developing their problem-solving ability, either by coping with the feelings or by finding effective ways to cope with the situation. Gottman and Siegel's studies on emotional intelligence have shown that children who learn to speak and express their feelings are more capable of adopting strategies to eliminate those stimuli that are annoying to themselves.
Emotional intelligence is important as it shows that the child is aware of all the different feelings he might be experiencing and at the same time he knows how to express them in a socially acceptable manner. It is highlighted then that the important thing when teaching a child about his emotions is not how to supress them but how to react to them appropriately.
These are some ways to help you introduce your children into the world of feelings in order to learn how to talk and express them in their everyday life:
And remember what the “Inside Out” movie taught us: “It is ok to feel all the emotions, it is how we deal with them that makes us the people we are”.
Psychologist – Play Therapist