Knowing how to help your child express his feelings in a healthy way is one of the best things you can do for your child’s mental health.
By being aware of your children’s feelings, you’ll be able to recognize when they’re not feeling good about themselves and give them tools that will help them get through difficult times.
The first step in knowing how to be aware of your child’s feelings is learning about the three basic emotions all children experience:
It’s normal for kids to feel these emotions, but sometimes they’re over-sensitive or under-sensitive to certain things.
When a child is over-sensitive, he feels emotions more intensely than others his age. It’s as if their feelings are turned up to an uncomfortable level. A child who’s over-sensitive might cry easily or be overly emotional.
When a child is under-sensitive, he doesn’t express his true feelings. He tries to ignore his feelings or act like they’re not there. Kids who are under-sensitive don’t like to talk about their emotions and usually withdraw from others.
By learning how to be aware of your child’s feelings, you’ll help him feel better when he’s upset and give him the tools he needs to manage his emotions.
Here are some things you can do to help your child learn how to express his feelings in a healthy way:
Talk About Emotions
When parents talk about their children’s feelings, kids learn that it’s okay to express them. For example, you might say to your child:
“I know you really wanted that toy. It was so much fun!”
When expressing feelings with kids this age, stay away from saying things like “You shouldn’t be mad.” By saying these types of things, you’ll teach them emotions are bad. Instead, it’s better to say something like, “It’s okay to be disappointed. You’ll get that toy another day.”
Let Kids Know It’s Okay Not to Have Answers
It can be hard for preschoolers and young kids not to know the answer to a question. They want to please their parents by having all the answers. When they don’t have an answer, they might say “I don’t know” and then feel bad about themselves.
Let your child know it’s okay not to have answers and that you’ll help guide him towards figuring it out. For example, you might say:
“That’s a good question…let’s think together and see if we can find the answer.”
Give Them Tools for Expressing Feelings
One way to help kids learn how to express their feelings in a healthy way is to give them tools that will help them get through difficult times. You might say things like:
“I love you even when you’re upset.”
“It’s okay if you don’t like what we’re doing. We can do something else.”
“I’m so happy you told me how you feel. I’m here to help you any way I can.”
When kids are taught how to express their feelings in a healthy way, they’re better able to manage their emotions. This gives them the tools they need not only as preschoolers but throughout their lives.