It doesn’t take long to recognize that kids (including babies) are very emotional beings. Just stay in a room with an unhappy toddler for five minutes and you’ll be willing to pay a ransom to see them turn happy again.
Expressing our emotions is a basic function of life, just like the need for nourishment and rest. BUT, while we accept emotions as a basic impulse, we often overlook the need for our active participation in honing the development of our children’s emotional responses. The guidance provided in the formative years can lead to emotionally stable adolescents and healthy lifestyle choices as adults.
Children will display a wide range of emotions on any given day. Just waking up can be a ‘nightmare’ if they get up on the wrong side of the bed. It can set the mood for the whole day if we don’t intervene to help them turn that frown upside down. Here’s the tricky part: knowing HOW to intervene. The problem in the early years, when emotions seem so volatile, is that our little ones lack the coping skills necessary to reason their way back to a positive outlook. This is where the need for an emotional vocabulary comes into play.
Teaching children to verbalize their feelings early helps them to describe what is happening inside and recognize they have a way to express those feelings without the tantrum (sometimes). It helps them to get direction from you to improve the situation and also allows you to share the joys of happier fun-filled times together. To start the process, it is essential to help your child build an emotional vocabulary. These are the action words that will drive the conversations where you can help them identify what they are feeling and respond to them in a positive way.
That isn’t to say that all the feelings will be positive, just that they will be able to express them positively.
In the following posts, I will be sharing some of these emotionally charged words and offer some practical ideas for guiding your child as s/he expresses everything from anger (hopefully without the tantrum) to bouts of uncontrollable laughter. The end results just may save your nerves and provide a helpful means of self expression for your little one.