Feelings are so powerful and it can be hard to know how to talk about them with our kids. How did you learn about feelings? How do we learn about feelings? How do we teach our kids about feelings?
Do you remember in grade school singing If You’re Happy and You Know It? What was your favorite part of that? I always loved turning myself around! We learn about feelings by experiencing and talking about them. (Cue: If you’re happy and you know it!). We all have our own ideas about feelings. I often hear people talk about “good” feelings and “bad” feelings, when the truth is that all feelings are just that feelings-things that create sensations in our bodies and minds. Having a better understanding about feelings is the first place to start when we think about teaching our kiddos about them! So come on and do some self exploration; what feelings are you most comfortable with and which ones do you avoid like plague?
When I work with parents on teaching their kiddos about feelings, I start with what I just wrote about: 1. We ALL feel feelings in our bodies AND kids haven’t yet learned how manage those feelings 2. Feelings aren’t good or bad.
From there, to build an emotionally intelligent kiddo, it starts with seeing them and connecting with them. When they are little (1 year to 4 years) this can be the best time to begin to help kiddos label and understand feelings. You can help your kiddos by giving them the word for what they are feeling in their bodies. By labeling that word you are giving them knowledge and understanding. Many parents will ask me “But Meagan, what if I label it wrong?” Just by asking that question, you are demonstrating that you are trying to figure out your kiddo-good for you! As your kiddos get older they ARE going to tell you when you label that feeling sad but for them it’s MAD! And again LOOK at you, TRYING to figure out your kiddo and LOOK at that emotionally intelligent child!! By providing your kiddo with the words for their body sensations you are empowering them and educating them!
The other really cool thing about labeling our kiddos’ feelings is that we not only educate them but everytime we do that we help them feel seen and heard. And isn’t that what we all want? When you sit down with your loved one after a hard day, and they can empathize with you and GET IT doesn’t that just do wonders for your soul? That’s what we are providing for our kiddos in small doses when we can connect with them through reflecting feelings. Side note: they may not always appreciate the labeling of feelings (enter 10 year old through teenager) but again LOOK at you, TRYING to figure out your kiddo! Which is a big part of what parenting is, learning about your kiddo and teaching them about themselves.
Don’t feel like you have to download the million feeling word chart to start out with this exciting new adventure. Remember your self exploration from the beginning of this blog?! Start there, find the two feelings that are comfortable for you and the two that are more challenging and start looking for them in your kiddos!
Author: Meagan Jackson