The Benefits of Helping Preschoolers Understand and Discuss Their Emotions
Your baby has grown up entered the terrible two’s. Every emotion is overwhelming for him and he most likely will not know how to express how he is feeling. Learn some tried and tested ways to help your child understand and express their emotions in a healthy way.
They aren’t called the terrible two’s and three’s for no reason. Or for that matter even the fearsome fours. All these scary terms boil down to the exact same thing – your child hasn’t learn to recognize and deal with emotions just yet. This more often than not leads to tantrums and major meltdowns that leave you feeling helpless, frustrated or even anxious!
Some may say they’ll grow out of it and indeed they will, but is it wise to just “let them be” or are there some life lessons to be taught at this fragile stage? Are there some long-term benefits to be learnt at this point?
Studies prove by both theory and practicality that emotional intelligence begins to develop at a very young age. If children are taught to find solutions to overwhelming emotions, they can gain a lifelong skill at a tiny age. It is proved that such children are less aggressive, kinder adults who are better at academics as well.
There are a few conscious things caregivers can do to help children in this stage of life.
1. Give Emotions A Name
Helping your child put down a concept or association to the image can help him deal better with it. Observe the behaviour, whether it be yelling, crying or not speaking at all, and take the child through a ‘reflection’ process. Ask then why they are behaving that way, what made them unhappy or angry. They will learn to associate different stimuli with certain emotions.
2. Make Emotions ‘Normal’
Try not to classify emotions as good or bad at the age when children are learning to deal with them. Every emotion at this stage is overwhelming and so normalizing every emotion helps to comfort them when they are angry, sad or fearful. It helps them know that every human being feels these emotions, helping them get a better perspective. Give them examples of when you felt the same way and how you reacted. And find a solution to the emotion that helps comfort and reduce the burden of it.
3. Develop Acceptable Solutions
Teaching a child what actions are appropriate to an overwhelming emotion is as important as teaching them the emotion itself. Help them to verbalise what is okay and what isn’t. This is also a good time to teach them “time outs”. For e.g. taking a break by yourself when you are angry with someone or napping when tiredness makes you irritable.
4. Read Picture Books
This doesn’t seem like the obvious choice but reading fiction actually helps a child understand empathy. Apart from that, the pictorial representations help them understand emotions through illustrations better.
Did you use any of these methods to help your child emote better? Did you have other techniques of helping your child express his emotions in a healthy manner? Do write in and let us know!