Young children experience significant problems identifying their feelings and how to express them. In most instances, the young children hit or bite someone due to frustrations or are even unable to calm down after having an exciting day. Such situations may be challenging, however, caregivers should understand that they are part of children’s learning experience. The caregivers can use different approaches to help the young children identify what they are feeling.
Caregivers can name different emotions such as sadness and anger to help young children to identify what they are feeling. The feelings that young children experience every day may be strange at first, but caregivers can help the kids name them appropriately. For instance, the caregiver can tell the child that “you are happy because your mother bought you a new toy” or “you were sad that your brother destroyed your favorite toy.” Teaching the children how to name feelings when they occur is instrumental since it helps them build emotional vocabulary over time and easily identify and talk about their feelings.
Pinpointing feelings in the children and others can also help the kids identify their emotional state. The caregivers can talk about the feelings the children and young children and other individuals around them experience every day. For example, the caregivers can ask the kids, “I have heard you laughing, are you happy?” or “Your friend’s toy got lost, how do you think she feels?” That way, the young children will learn about different feelings and how to identify them.
Another way that caregivers can help young children identify the way they are feeling is by talking about how the latter can be expressed. They should lead by example, talk about their feelings and describe to the kids how to express them. For instance, they can use such phrases as “I am angry because you hurt your friend” or “I am happy that you helped your friend get up after falling.” They also ask such questions as “How can your friends know you are happy?” consequently, the children will learn how to express their emotional states.
Explaining physiological and psychological experiences of emotions to the children may be challenging, especially when their language is not fully developed. However, caregivers can use picture books and videos that show different feelings depicted by characters in the stories. Then, they can use simple language, both verbal and non-verbal, that the kids can understand. That way, the children can learn about the psychological and physiological experiences of their emotions.
Caregivers can help young children recognize how their emotions may impact their social relationships, thinking, and behavior through storytelling and using picture books. They can also ask the kids what they think about others and themselves when they are in a particular emotional state. For example, they can ask, “What do you think about the child who lost your favorite toy?” or “Why are you not playing with your friend today?” when the children are unhappy. Equally, they can talk about different behaviors and associate them with a particular emotional state.
Teaching young children deep breathing practices and counting to calm down are important strategies that caregivers can use to help the kids respond and regulate their emotions in socially acceptable ways. These approaches are vital especially when the children are disappointed since they calm the mind and distract upsetting thoughts. The strategies can prevent the kids from engaging in fights with their friends or having vengeful thoughts when they are hurt.