I found out that my little one hardly talk in difficult situation. I also notice that when I engage him in interactive activities he hardly talk and when he talks, is seldom reckless in expressing his mind.
Other things he does when angry is, he is not friendly at all and can be very hyper reactive. But, why I asked myself repeatedly?
While questioning my thoughts I resolved to start examining him closely in other to know what went wrong. What the challenges he is facing? And how best to help him out?
I suppose, I’d offended him, may be; but how? I am not quite sure though, I latter found out that the challenge is facing is that he can’t express his feelings.
Absolutely, many children out there are having the same experience. Kids also seldom have feelings and emotions that adults too experience such as anger, frustration, jealousy, excitement, embarrassment, nervousness, sadness etc.
Don’t be dismay that many of the little ones out there don’t know or have words to express how they are feeling oftentimes. Instead, they express their feelings with their actions, facial expressions, body language and behavior, of which this is inappropriate and could be problematic at long run.
With concrete evidence fact is children have a hard time identifying how they are feeling and how to express them appropriately. And that is why they often behave irrationally. Some children may find it difficult to calm down after an exciting day, or bite and hit when they get frustrated.
The question is; how can we help children to address or control this difficulties termed “Expressing Feeling” irrational? This can be very overwhelming for parents, caregivers, educators and therapist.
Well. look no further than learn from my experience of how I’d help my child and many other kids that have similar challenges(expressing feelings).
This content relays how I go about identifying and training my child and many other kids to express their feelings with confidence and assisting them to control their emotional distress with ease. And I am very sure it will go a long way in assisting you too.
What are feelings?
The term “feelings” can simply be used to describe emotional or physical experiences examples are the sensation of warmth, pain, or cold describes by physical phenomena human being feels.
Sensations like fear, comfort, happiness, and anxiousness describes what I and you even children can experience emotionally and psychologically and we can react to positively or negatively.
Meaning, feelings are essential because they are responsible for our experience of life. Sure, our feelings is what determine our state of mind whether we are sad, happy, frustrated or content.
Having known the meaning of feelings, we can begin to see that children starts learning the emotional skills they need to identify, express, and manage their feelings at the moment they are born.
They learn all these through their relationships and social interactions with their immediate environ starting with parent/guardian and it extend to the vital people in their lives such as family, friends, care givers etc.
However, denying a child the opportunity to express themselves sends them a wrong message that their feelings are not important or worthy.
Therefore, as a parent/guardian, caregiver or kids lovers, one of our vital role is to help children understand their feelings and how to express them appropriately.
Children need to be shown how to understand, express and manage their feelings in a positive way in order to set control over a whole new set of problems that may come up from inability to handle same.
How to help a child confidently express feelings?
To help a child understand and confidently express his/her feelings take the following steps:
- Identify and name the feelings
Identifying and naming feelings is the first step to take in helping a child learn how to express his/her feelings. Feelings that can not be define or qualify with a word definitely will be hard to express.
Children must be teach how to develop right emotional words that qualify what they are going through before they can understand and talk about it. So teach your child basic words that explains feelings such as sad, mad, angry, scared and other related common emotional feelings.
An example is, whenever I sit with my child to watch movie; I use the characters on TV scene to educate my child on expressing feelings by discussing how various character behave or talk to express their how they feels.
You can ask questions like, “How do you think she feels right now?” then you go ahead and discuss the various feelings the character may be experiencing and the reasons why. Meaning, by discussing about other people’s feelings you also teaches a child empathy.
Certain, every human go through different feeling and to kids, it may be strange feelings foreign to there understanding; when such feeling is first experience. But, if a child has been taught how to identify and name feelings it will help him/her to easily describe the feelings when and where necessary.
For instance, expressing why you are angry should be qualify with reason “You were angry that your brother broke your favorite toy” or Mummy has to go out and you are sad to say goodbye”. These are teachings parents/guardian can help a child learn how to identify their emotions and also build their vocabulary easily.
When my child learns to name feelings when they occur, he automatically builds an emotional vocabulary over time and get to the point where he was able to identify and express his feelings and also talk to me about them.
- Familiarize and respond to his/her cues
Kids often communicate without speaking’ most especially when they don’t know how to tell what going on with them. This can be term nonverbal communication. It involves the use of facial expressions, gestures, or postures that sends a message without speaking.
Typical examples of nonverbal communication are: Babies cry whenever they are wet or hungry because they cannot talk. A toddler might take your hand and direct you to the kitchen to tell you they are hungry.
Most times, children fails to select the appropriate time to express their feelings and also may not have or know right word or sentences to use.
This then result to problematic behavior and emotional outburst which makes it quite difficult for parents or caregivers to identify the exact feeling. That is why and where familiarizing and responding to cues comes to play.
Cue in simple note is a thing said or done that serves as a signal. In other words, cue is a hint or signal to a person to do something. And this is an attribute kids exhibit early in childhood.
Children often communicate quite a bit without speaking. In a situation like this, the best thing to do is tune into your child’s emotions and feelings.
Look at his/her facial expressions, body language, gestures, and try to listen attentively to what your little one is trying to say without speaking.
Despite sometimes feelings can be hard to figure out., a parent/guardian must be attentive enough to figure out child’s feelings by observing respective behavior.
Figuring out what your child feels and why he feels that way simply makes you to be able to help him/her identify, express and manage those feelings better even when the need arise to help other people.
Responding to my child’s cues makes him feel loved, understood, confide in me and less frustrated. Tuning into my child’s cues in a calm, attentive, and responsive manner makes me build a strong and supportive relationship with him and this yield a fast positive result towards expressing feeling.
- Act good role model
Often time, children learn many things by observing someone do it. Also is the case about expressing feelings appropriately. Child can learn same faster by watching you do(express feelings with confidence).
Meaning, another best way to help a child express feelings is to set a good example yourself. You can start by talking about how you feel.
Describe your experience with clarity using simple familiar words. Narrating your daily encounter and how you feel also is a good take.
Make use of words they will understand. Describe what you mean when you introduce a new “feeling” word. For instance, you can say “I feel lonely because your brother is gone away for camp”… I miss him dearly.
This way, your child will understand how you feel and why you feel that way. This is an excellent way for them to learn how to express their feelings too.
- Promote emphatic listening
In simple note, empathic listening is the practice of being responsive and attentive to others input during conversation. It simply means paying attention to another person with empathy.
It is a way that implies you show more concern. It tells that you are listening and responding to someone in a way that improves trust and mutual understanding.
Empathic listening requires you to be very attentive to what and how your child is feeling. The connection between you and your child will deepen when you listen empathetically.
It involves receiving or gathering whatever information you need to tune into a child’s experience and understand it fast.
This requires you to make use of your eyes to notice their facial expressions, body language and gestures of the child and making use of your imagination to try to see things the way they see it.
Promoting empathic listening here is all about helping your child to see that you have heard and you understand him/her. When a child sees that you understand how they are feeling, it makes them cooperate with you and also make them feel better.
Listening emphatically to my child inadvertently makes my child believe and know that I am tuning into his feelings and problems. Very helpful move that makes him feel I heard is complaint and understood.
This in turn makes my child free to want to talk to me’ as if we are but best of friends Sure he can now express his/her feelings with clarity knowing fully well I will listen emphatically.
- Do not suppress your child’s feelings
It is very important that you do not suppress a child’s feelings because emotional suppression can be dangerous.
Emotional suppression is a type of emotional regulation that can make overwhelming, uncomfortable thoughts and feelings manageable to whoever is involved.
The last thing you want to do is to make your child feel you do not care about their feelings’ that is very dangerous. Kindly, I admonish you to avoid …
Avoid saying words like “Stop being so overdramatic”, “You are crying over nothing”, “Don’t get so mad over something so small” or “Don’t be such a baby”. Use of derogative statement will worsens the situation.
Avoid dictating to your child how to feel, rather encourage them to share what they are thinking with you and talk about the events happening to them or around them.
When a child is expressing feelings to you, stop what you are doing at that moment and give your child your undivided attention. Else, this could make a child feel their feelings are not important or they are not worthy of attention.
This can lead to a low self esteem and a new set of problems. Suppressing a child’s feelings will not help a child in expressing their feelings another time; even when giving chance to do. it is advisable to avoid doing such.
- Encourage with praise
By praising your child, you make them recognize what they do well, when they do well, and also feel proud of themselves. Praise your child whenever he/she talks about how is feeling.
You can give positive feedback or make remarks like “I saw you were very angry and you took a deep breath and walked away. Wow, you handled your anger pretty well”.
Praise is that act of expressing admiration, approval or commendation. Praise can have powerful effect on children. It empowers and motivates them to try harder or do more. Praise is when you tell a child that you like how they are behaving or what they are doing.
Praising your child will send a message that he has done the right thing and you are proud of him for expressing himself. When you praise your child, they are more likely to repeat that action and this will encourage them that it is okay to express their feelings.
In simple note, I always motivate with words of encouragement and simply avoid using words that will demoralize my little one. I am always being mindful of using. positive so my child will not feel dejected.
- Teach better ways to express feelings
It is essential you teach and make your child understand that it is not okay to take his/her emotions out on someone else. Do not encourage your child to express his feelings without regarding or consider others people feelings or needs too.
You can help your child express his/her anger in other ways like channeling it in activities such as jogging, running or rather walk away, pick up books to read etc.
These are all positive or alternate ways to control anger or frustration in order to be calm and able to with clarity when need to express feelings. It takes determination and practice to help your child express his feelings appropriately.
- Make yourself approachable
Your child needs to know that you are there for him/her. Teaching your child about feelings requires showing him that you are there for him physically. Show your child that you are available using your words and your body language.
When your child is talking to you, sit close to him, maintain eye contact, and avoid mumbling your replies absentmindedly. Show your child that you are present physically and emotionally.
- Do not punish
Avoid punishing your child when he throws tantrum or shows anger. Punishing your child will not help him express his feelings because he will feel that it is bad. These will result in bottling his emotions up till he experiences a meltdown one day.
Instead of administering punishment, you can help your child manage and process their feelings and emotions in positive ways by simply showing or teaching him/her how to go about it using practical examples.
By now you already informed and have learn various ways on how to help a child express feelings confidently. Implementing the steps above will not only liberate a child from remorsefulness but, it will also make the child a positive oriented social being capable of expressing his/her feelings in appropriate ways.
As a parent/guardian, caregiver or educator we must be up and doing in areas that will grow and develop children for the future here at hand.
Parents also read: How to help a child grow critical thinking skills?
It is one of our major role to help children express and manage their feelings appropriately. The more you practice these steps to help your child express his/her feelings, the easier they become.
Be patient while administering this therapy, be close and very attentive. Be open, embracing and always ready to help. A collective effort between parents and teachers can further enhance rapid result.
I will be very glad to hear from you’ your opinion, question or the like is welcome. I am sure to respond asap to further help you and your child out of this situation. So feel free to use the comment box below. You can also follow us to stay abreast of our subsequent publications. Thanks for reading.