Our children have complex feelings and thoughts but often cannot express themselves because they do not have the words to match what they feel inside. We can help our children learn some of those words by naming them when they are younger and talking about feelings daily or after a specific event has occurred. This is a good strategy for basic emotions that you can interpret by the expressions and body language of a child (mad, sad, scared, happy). Here are two ideas to help guide your children to explore their emotions.
Use emotion word lines to explore feelings
Here are some emotion word lines to explore with your child – is it important to recognize that one word doesn’t always capture the magnitude of a feeling. The more words children have to express their feelings, the more likely they are able to identify, communicate and manage their feelings.
Mad -> annoyed -> angry -> furious -> fuming -> enraged
Sad -> unhappy -> disappointed -> downcast -> miserable
Happy -> cheerful -> delighted -> excited -> joyful
Scared -> nervous -> afraid -> frightened -> terrified
Use storytelling to identify and talk about complex feelings
It can be a little more difficult to be able to capture adequately how your child may be feeling if there are complex emotions involved. Storybooks paired with conversation play an important role for navigating these feelings and putting words to those feelings. Here are some suggestions for storybooks that may help your child and you explore complex feelings together:
- Today I Feel Silly: And Other Moods That Make My Day (by Jaime Lee Curtis)
- Grumpy Monkey (by Suzanne Lang and Max Lang)
- A bad case of the stripes (by David Shannon)
- Giraffes can’t dance (by Giles Andreae)
- Move Your Mood (by Brenda S. Miles and Colleen A. Patterson)