Children respond differently to feelings than adults do. Depending maturity, some children are able to share about their feelings and what you as an adult can do to support them. Emotional maturity does not always correlate with intelligence or age. You can have a very intelligent child, but social and emotionally they are not able to share or understand their emotions. Children respond to different feelings based on their day to day experiences and also based on their emotional maturity. Their ability to cope and share these feelings is crucial to forming and sharing relationships. Emotional language development involves learning what feelings are and how these feelings impact us and others.
Create An Emotional Language Chain
When your child is upset, take simple steps to acknowledge their feelings and sequence what happened, acknowledge how they feel and talk about what to do about their feeling. An emotional language chain simply means making a list of feeling vocabulary words or using simple feeling phrases frequently. It is similar to how people use daily affirmation words and phrases. For example, “I am sad because mommy did not buy candy, I am okay because I can play with my favorite teddy, ” “I am angry because I bumped my head, I feel better because mommy put ice pack on it.” To reduce emotional breakdowns, try to follow the simple tips:
- Routines should be predictable and flexible
- Balance active times with quiet times
- Make time to deal with feelings if routine changes
- Talk about feelings – what, where, why
It is important to have a ready to use emotional language vocabulary words or phrases during emotionally challenging situations. It helps the child calm down and reduces our tendency to negatively respond to the child’s emotions or tantrums. For example, you needed to rush out of a store and had very little time to take your child to go visit his favorite isle in the store and this caused a meltdown, instead of giving your child a long explanation , you can simple state, “I am sorry I made you sad.” “I know you are sad,” “It is okay.” “I know mommy did not take you to look at…” Encourage your child to share their feeling in a similar manner. The more you use these phrases, the more your child will become familiar with the phrases and connects the phrases and vocabulary to his or her difficult situations. Your child will eventually learn to connect those words and phrases to his/her emotions and become a better communicator.