Talking about emotions has got to be one of the hardest conversations to have. Have you ever thought about talking to your child about their emotions ? What does that conversation sound like ? How does it start ? Talking about emotions can be very tricky if you are not sure what emotional intelligence is or where to start with it. Emotional Intelligence is the capacity or capability of an individual to recognize their own emotions and the emotions of others. This means that you are able to differentiate between what you feel and label or name that emotion appropriately. Behaviour is a form of communication and being able to communicate emotions appropriately can help to navigate that space if one is willing to work through that emotion or they are seeking help if they are not sure on how to work through it.
Below you will find some tips on how to talk to your child about their emotions. The great thing about this information is that it is transferable and works for all ages. Teachers can also use this in their classroom.
How to teach your child about emotional intelligence ?:
1. Teach your child different words that describe emotion.
The first step in understanding how to navigate your emotions and the emotions of others is being able to name them. For example, happy, sad, angry, afraid, surprised, etc. Also, be sure to show your child what each emotion looks like. Understanding emotions is not just knowing the word, but what it looks like. This is so that you understand how to respond accordingly. When you are teaching children words that describe emotions, it is helpful to use an emotion chart. An emotion chart has an array of words that are used to describe various emotions. It also gives different words that describe the same emotion. That allows you to describe it in different ways.
2. Be empathetic.
Oftentimes when we see our children expressing their feelings (depending on what it is) we immediately shun them from doing so. It is very important that as a child expresses their emotions we allow them to do so. Create the safe space they need in order to talk about their emotions. Be the listening ear they need and refrain from interrupting them. It is ok to let them know that it is ok for them to feel that way. We are all humans and feel different emotions at different points in life, it is how we react to them that matters.
3. Teach them how to deal with their emotions.
Apart from knowing how to label emotions is learning how to deal with them. This does not just apply with self, it applies to responding to other people's emotions as well. The first thing we must teach them is not to hide how they feel, they must name it. Naming your emotion is the first step to addressing it. Hiding emotions only represses the feeling which can in turn be more dangerous later on. Once you name the emotion, ask yourself “Why am I feeling this way ?” and answer the question. In illustration, “Briana always finishes the milk and never replaces it when it’s done so I am not able to use the milk in my cereal”, “Damon always makes fun of my accent when I read out loud”, etc. After that, do something that makes you happy. Do not hold onto the negative feeling, instead do something that would put you in a great mood. You can draw, go for a walk, take a break or even read your favorite book etc. It is important to note that doing something positive does not mean that you are ignoring your initial feelings.
4. Put yourself in their shoes.
Children oftentimes see adults as invincible. In their eyes we have gone through it all. We all know that that’s not the case. Let them know that you understand where they are coming from. Affirm them. If you too have been in that situation, feel free to express that and tell them how you got through it. Let them know that you too are human. The message hits more when they see that they relate to you. Children love that ; even teenagers.
All in all, this is no easy feat. It is a learning process and it is okay to let your child/children know that. It is something we work on everyday even as adults. Some situations may not affect us the same way others can. Use these three easy steps to start talking to your child/children about emotions and how to navigate them. For more resources, check out the moodmeterapp.com or you can download the Mood Meter App on your smartphone or tablet. The mood meter is a part of a program called RULER that breaks down various emotions and the energy levels that come with those emotions. The app is more detailed on emotional intelligence but here are three steps you can start out with. If you have any questions or would like to know more feel free to contact me at email@example.com or leave your questions and comments down below.