Every day humans experience a variety of emotions. We can wake up in a great mood and an unexpected traffic jam can make us feel annoyed. A happy day can be ruined by an unkind word from a friend or spouse. The same thing happens to our kids. They can go to school happy and come home sad due to a bad grade or a fight with a friend. Emotions can vary day by day, moment by moment. Some emotions are pleasant such as happiness, excitement, and calm. Other emotions can be more difficult to experience such as sadness, loneliness, and fear. Heartbreaks from friends or significant others are the most painful of all and can be a challenge to get through. Learning to identify and manage emotions at an early age can set up your child for a healthy existence: physically and mentally. Here are some tips to help your child identify and learn how to manage various emotions.
Start Labeling Feelings as Early as Possible
When your child is as young as 12 months old, start labeling emotions in books and videos. For example, “Pooh is sad because he lost his honey” or “Peppa Pig is excited to see her friends”. If you and your child witness another child crying at the playground, say “that child is crying because he is in pain from falling”. When your child experiences emotions, validate them at the moment. For example, ” you are so happy to play in the water” or “I know you are sad because your toy broke, it’s okay to be sad”. Purchasing flashcards with various emotions might be a good way for your child to start building emotional language. There are videos on Youtube that teach emotions in a fun way. Here are my favorite youtube videos:
Teach Coping Skills to Deal With Emotions
Start teaching your child coping skills and problem-solving skills as early as possible. If your child is frustrated because they cannot find their favorite toy, validate their feelings of frustration and show coping skills by saying, “I know you are frustrated that you cannot find your favorite teddy bear, let’s take some deep breaths and calm down, and retrace our steps.”If your child came home crying because they fought with their best friend, validate their feelings and try to problem solve the situation. For example, ” I know you are upset because you and Emily fought, let’s talk about what happened, and come up with a possible solution.”
There are curriculums and books you can purchase to help your child learn coping skills. One of my favorite curriculums is was created by Leah Kuypers to help kids identify and manage emotions is the “Zones of Regulations”. This curriculum groups emotions by color and attaches coping skills for each color. This curriculum can be purchased on Amazon or you can purchase activities based on this curriculum such as www.teacherspayteachers.com or https://www.socialthinking.com/Products/zones-of-regulation-poster.
There are also youtube videos that help teach coping skills, problem-solving skills, and managing emotions: Below are my favorite:\
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_FMxPo4xDM This video teaches how to cope with anger.
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Nf2Pzcketg This video teaches stress management.
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDYx9qM_ygg This video is on test anxiety.
One of my personal favorite coping skills to teach kids is yoga and meditation. There is an elementary school in Baltimore that replaced detention with a meditation and mindfulness room. As a result, the instances of suspensions and detention rates dropped significantly, and school attendance has increased. Meditation and yoga have shown lots of benefits including a decrease in anxiety, depression, and improves overall happiness. Enroll your child in a yoga kid class, practice breathing and meditation as a family, or find various videos on youtube that have fun yoga and meditation videos for kids. Below are my favorite kids’ yoga and meditation videos:
In conclusion, there is no one-size-fits-all; every child has a different learning style and need. If your child has major emotional or behavioral issues, seek professional help.