On today’s inspiring and exciting podcast episode Annette discussed how to talk about how to teach your child about their feelings and how to manage them better. Plus as a special extra bonus, she’s also going to cover 14 Ways to Make Your Child Feel Special to boost their self-esteem.
Okay, let’s go. As children mature, they’ll experience all kinds of emotions, like all humans.
They’ll also have reactions to those feelings and emotions because of their natural responses. They’ll find it helpful to learn to manage their emotions as early in life as possible. You can do a lot to help them with this.
So here’s a few tips to help you teach your child about their feelings and emotions.
Here’s a few tips to help you teach your child about their emotions:
- Be open and honest about your feelings in your child or teen’s presence. It’s important for your children to see you as a healthy, active adult who appropriately expresses their feelings.
- How you manage your own feelings provides your young child’s helpful lesson in how to express their feelings.
- Modelling is one of the most powerful forms of teaching behaviours to children.
And as I often reference for the young people I coach… ‘Behaviour mirrors Behaviour’
- Show respect. Verbally express your feelings in ways that are helpful and that show respect for others. When you and your spouse appropriately talk about your emotions and share them with each other, kids learn how to do it just by observing.
- Use “I” statements followed by “feeling” words when you share your emotions in front of your children.
- For example, “I feel really annoyed when you play with your friends on the way home from school and get here 30 minutes late.”
- Be mindful of your tone of voice. If you use appropriate tones of voice when expressing feelings, your child will learn to use them as well. For example, instead of raising your voice when you’re upset, make an effort to keep your voice calm.
- Identify young children’s emotions with them. For very young children, two or three years old, it’s beneficial to label and clarify the child’s feelings in their presence. Especially at six years and under, children usually have little understanding of how their emotions function.
- For example, if a three-year-old gets angry and stamps their feet because they want sweets or a toy, get down to their eye level and say something like, “You’re angry at me right now because you can’t have sweets (or whatever it was).”
- Use names of feelings, like angry, mad, sad, happy, pleased, frustrated, and others. You convey a great deal of emotional learning when you teach a child about feelings by using the names of emotions.
- Sometimes, you may find it helpful to tell a young child, “It’s okay if you’re mad.” Giving the child permission to feel and express their feelings can be very validating for them, even if they don’t respond that way at the time.
Just make sure they do not attach reward to negative behaviour because they will undoubtedly repeat it.
TOP TIP: Separate the actions from their emotions and remember people are not their emotions as much as they are not the clothes they wear.
Are we, as adults our emotions? Of course not.
- On the other hand, if a young child gets frustrated or angry and throws a toy that could hurt someone, it’s advisable to state, “name of child (to get their attention) it’s NOT okay to throw your toy”
Then help them express their emotions or feelings with I feel example I offered so they can appropriately communicate with you and in turn you can offer some alternatives to the behaviour.
“No, don’t throw your toys. It’s not okay to throw your toys.”
Remember, it’s futile for adults to get frustrated or angry with young children who have a lot to learn about their emotions. Your patience will show them, by modelling, how to keep their cool, even in a frustrating situation.
Again, children learn from what they see others (AKA their Parents) doing and behaving.
- When your child manages their feelings appropriately, providing immediate positive reinforcement makes a big difference in how a child learns to express emotions.
Unresolved Emotions will often manifest into inappropriate behaviour.
Smile and say something like, “Luke, I like the way you sat quietly and got on with your homework even though I could tell you were finding it hard. You did a great job!”
When offering positive comments, state your child’s name and obtain eye contact with him. This will help reinforce the positive behaviour.
Also, you can include a reward right at the end of positive behaviour to help reinforce it, even if its just doing something fun such as playing a game or watching their favourite TV show together etc. Make sure it’s personality and age appropriate. Use your imagination.
OK, so there’s some ways to help your child understand and manage their feelings… remember as a Parent it’s your task to help them understand, by the way you communicate with them.
‘Communication is the response that you get from the other person’.
How To make Your Child Feel Special
When children feel special, they behave differently than say when they feel rejected or ignored.
So, here’s 14 Ways to Make Your Child Feel Special
Your child needs your time, love, and attention. As a parent, you’re probably the most important influence in their life, (although if you’re a parent of a teen you may feel the balance has tipped as friends feature higher up the influence ladder), either way it’s up to you to make them smile and build their self-esteem.
Consider these ideas for things you can do to make your child feel special and invent some strategies of your own.
Habits and rituals that become part of your routine family life will have the deepest impact for you. Even on your busiest days, you’ll be able to show your child how much you care just by doing your ordinary activities.
Integrate these practices into your regular routines:
- Be enthusiastic. Yes, sounds basic, but so many Parents these days are distracted. Listen attentively when your child wants to talk with you. Share their excitement even if the subject is boring or monotonous, for example if it’s something you’ve done or seen a hundred times.
- Demonstrate affection. Again, it might seem as though this is a given… but how conscious are you about it? Give your child hugs and kisses on a regular basis (even for those resistant teens… they’ll appreciate it, but likely not show it). Physical contact helps you bond with your children and may even enhance their brain development.
- Offer praise. Let your child know that you’re proud of them for their talents and for making an effort. Tell them how much you admire their ability to study, perform or be creative for example. Applaud them for completing their homework or helping someone who needed it.
- Ask for help. Enlist your child’s cooperation and give them a chance to teach or help you, too. Tell them that you appreciate the part they play in keeping the household running smoothly or name of the task they have helped you with. Thank them for explaining a new slang word or demonstrating how to play a popular video game.
- Go for a drive. Make your errands more meaningful. Invite your child to come along. Even if it takes you a little longer to complete your work, the conversations are worth it.
Even if you think your child or teenager will just sit there in silence or refuse to go with you. It’s worth pursuing in the long run. You can be the one to initiate the conversation or you can talk about trivial stuff then lead into more specific questions that trigger conversations.
And you know how those ‘chats in the car’ can be SO helpful… you’re focused on the driving so they feel less awkward about speaking up about things.
- Encourage hobbies. How does your child spend their free time? Limit TV, gadget and computer time so they can take up a hobby or sport that will make them more interesting and feel accomplished.
- Do chores together. Taking responsibility builds your child’s confidence. Put them in charge of setting the dinner table or walking the dog. Let them know you can trust them and believe they are capable.
- Read bedtime stories. Obviously, this is age appropriate, but the hours spent preparing for sleep are an ideal opportunity to unwind and connect. Snuggle together and share your favourite books or make up stories based on your real-life experiences. Try to get creative.
Some of the best stories are those that teach life lessons at the same time.
- Enjoy family dinners. Shared family mealtime has been declining for a number of years, but you can reinstate this family tradition. Because mealtime is great chance to spend some uninterrupted time together. Your children will strengthen their conversation skills and probably eat healthier.
You are only limited by your creativity.
Of course, there’s also room for thoughtful surprises and occasional treats. You can brighten up your child’s day without having to spend a lot of money.
You can try the following ideas:
- Send mail in the post. Physical mail is so rare these days that anything you send may seem exceptional. Write a letter to your child for their birthday or give them a book related to their hobby or sport.
- Volunteer as a family. Helping others is a sure-fire way to feel more satisfied with your life. Talk with your child about what causes excite them and look for fun and easy projects that they’ll want to do again and again.
If you want to find out what organisations operate in your area… try this tip: Type the word Volunteering + your location into Google or other search engine.
- Plan outings. Short trips can give you more family time and help your child to continue learning outside the classroom. Visit a science museum in your neighbourhood or your next vacation destination.
- Dine out. Yes, it can be expensive, but often can be as simple as a hot drink and sandwich. But restaurants provide a fun place for brushing up on etiquette. You may want to start with casual spots where your child will feel welcome as they practice ordering off the menu and using their indoor voice.
This is what I often say when I’m coaching young people: ‘Education is liberation.’
- Celebrate holidays. Create family traditions for Christmas and Halloween and other religious celebrations. Even simple practices like baking a favourite dessert can become powerful over the years.
What you can do is plan ahead for the holidays and be creative, this makes the process much easier.
Making your child or teenager feel loved and respected will help them to grow up to be happy and responsible adults. Treasure your time together and create memories that you’ll both enjoy for years to come.