Teaching Toddlers the Language of Feelings

This is how we usually spend our weekends. My tail tags along to my violin class. For whatever reason, we always stop and stare at this beautiful photograph of Uniqlo’s model.

Uri: “She is beautiful Mama. Look! She is not angry. She is not sad. She is just posing. Right Mama?” Mama: “Right! She is posing for the camera. The photographer must have said ‘look sad’, ‘look angry’ then the lady acts out the emotions.”

How do we teach toddlers and preschoolers the language of feelings, which helps them learn to manage their own? What a great question asked by a mom in a coffee table talk last week.

Here is our HOW:

• 😃Label emotions as often as possible by empathizing with Uri’s feelings: “What a big smile! You're happy!" "You are mad! You didn’t like it when the boy pushed you. You can tell him, “Pls. don't push me!'"

• 😩 Play "Name that feeling" by making faces at each other and guessing what feeling is being expressed.

• 🥺 Wonder about the feelings of others. When we witness any child experience intense feeling, we comment on it and express curiosity, concern & empathy. "That little boy is crying....I wonder why he's sad...." * "That little girl looks so upset.....Oh, I see! Her ice cream fell! She's so disappointed."

• 😡 Read books about feelings. Pixar Inside Out book of feelings is a favorite, but there are many other good books out there.

Telling your child learn to cope with his feelings is not to fear the feelings, but embrace them—all of them. Feelings aren’t right or wrong, they just are. Sadness and joy, anger and disgust, can co-exist and are all part of the collection of emotions children experience. When you help your child understand his feelings, he is better equipped to manage them effectively.

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