1. Amidst the pandemic that has hit us, our children are as confused, lost, overwhelmed as all of us adults. We may still have the words and cognitive skills to express and purge them out. That makes it even more important to reach out to them and develope an emotional language / vocabulary within them.
You can reach out to your child, only if you are able to reach to yourself and are attuned within your own emotional turmoil. So take care of yourself , work on purging out difficult emotions and processing them
2. An Emotional vocabulary can be built by giving a label to feelings: through emojis stickers or drawing faces with different emotions as happy, sad, angry on big sheets of paper. Practice teaching them the same expression on their faces, what happens within their bodies while they face these emotions ( eg racing heart when angry)
Naming feelings is the first step in helping kids learn to identify them. It allows your child to develop an emotional vocabulary so they can talk about their feelings.
3. Build an emotional meter with varied 'shades' of an emotion labelled on it: on a scale of one to five. For eg:
Bursting out with anger
On a daily basis, check in with your child, what stage of the emotion he is at, and reinforce the fact that it's okay to feel ALL kind of emotions, sometimes more than one emotion , at different levels ( in 1 to 5 scale) in a single situation also.
4. Tune into cues - Sometimes feelings can be hard to identify. Tune into your child’s feelings by looking at their body language, listening to what they’re saying and observing their behaviour. Figuring out what they feel and why means you can help them identify, express and manage those feelings better.
5. Behind every behaviour is a feeling - Try to understand the meaning and feeling behind your child’s behaviour. You can help your child find other ways to express that feeling once you know what is driving the behaviour through art activities, painting, coloring, games and sensory mediums as play dough, sensory sand, rice, pulses etc
6. Identify feelings in others – Provide lots of opportunities to identify feelings in others. You might ask your child to reflect on what someone else may be feeling. Cartoons or picture books are a great way discuss feelings and helps kids learn how to recognise other people’s feelings through facial expressions.
7. Be a role model - Kids learn about feelings and how to express them appropriately by watching others. Show your child how you’re feeling about different situations and how you deal with those feelings
8. Encourage with praise - Praise your child when they talk about their feelings or express them in an appropriate way. Not only does it show that feelings are normal and it’s ok to talk about them, it reinforces the behaviour so they are likely to repeat it.
9. Listen to your child’s feelings - Stay present and resist the urge to make your child’s bad feelings go away. Support your child to identify and express their feelings so they are heard. When feelings are minimised or dismissed, they will often be expressed in unhealthy ways.
Ishani Ahuja (Child And Adolescent Psychologist & Family Therapist) Email:email@example.com
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