How to Help Your Child Express Their Feelings

Sharing buttons:

Okay, all you parents, we've got another great topic for you today about how to

help your child express their feelings. That's going to be useful.

The biggest

teacher that we have for our children is our own example so I'll share five

points with you today on how to help children express their feelings. The

first one has to be our own example that we model for them the appropriate way to

express our feelings. If we are having problems with that as parents, it's

important to do whatever we need to do to get ourselves on track so that we are

expressing our feelings appropriately and then we'll be in a position that we

can really teach our children in a more powerful way

now without spending more time on that particular topic today. Let's go on to

number two. Tip number two for helping our children to be more appropriately

expressive of their feelings is to teach them some vocabulary around feelings,

depending on the age and development of your child will tailor this to fit. Think

about a teenager for a moment.. I've asked some teenagers - just tell me what kinds

of feelings they might feel throughout the day - mad, sad, happy and then they

start running a ground. It's like I don't know if there's any other feelings other

than those, right? What if we could teach them more vocabulary. There's some really

interesting resources online too and probably you've seen these before like

the chart that it has all of the different faces lined up with a word a

feeling word that's underneath that expression. Even in text messaging, you

have the emojis and the emoticons in there that express some kind of feeling.

This is a good thing to do especially with younger kids to help them develop

that vocabulary but while we're on teenagers, what if a teenager

could talk about frustration instead of mad? Because a lot of times, anger is a

secondary emotion anyway, it comes after we feel disappointed, frustrated, sad or

like we've experienced a feeling of loss, alright, and then sometimes anger comes

after that. Well if all they're identifying is mad, they don't have the

words of the vocabulary or the insight to talk about these other feelings that

could be triggering the anger in the first place. Let's expand that vocabulary

and use whatever resources you can find for that. I mentioned like the chart with

the faces on it but you'll find other things online or in other resource

places about how to increase the vocabulary on the feeling words. With

little kids, you can play some games around this. For example, take a picture,

like a picture book that has pictures of little kids or other people who are

experiencing some emotion and see if you can guess what the emotion is that

they're feeling. You as a parent can come in with additional words that might help

that child to describe the picture in a little different way than the

traditional words that we might default to so expand that vocabulary, that's tip

number two. Alright, for the third tip today, I would say let's create some

experiences that allow children to express their feelings in a variety of

ways. Talking is only one way to express

feelings and it's a good way and a useful way especially if we've increased

the vocabulary around feeling words so that they can appropriately identify and

express and describe things that they're feeling but what other ways can we get

to this? What if for example we pull out a box or a tray full of sand and I'm

really a fan kinetic sand. Have you seen this? You can

go look on Amazon and find what I'm talking about. Kinetic sand is just sand

but it's been combined with some silicon kinds of, I think it's actually what we

used to make silly putty out of, it's all mixed together with the sand so that it

actually sticks and it feels like you're playing with wet sand but it's

completely dry and it doesn't get all over everything it's just amazing stuff.

I've pulled this out with my adult kids and they just start playing with that

sand and they become more expressive, either through what they're modeling or

in the words that they're using to describe an experience that they had for

example so having something kinesthetic that you can do with your hands and it

might be the sand like I talked about as we play with kinetic sand. It could be

some blocks that you could stack up and just play with. Now this works great with

kids but I'm talking about my adult kids who have more access to expressing what

they're experiencing as they get their hands busy doing something and the

default especially in a family. You think about how your family interacts and what

kind of conversations are we having.. Well, if the TV is on or if somebody's just

glued to their screen of their handheld device, we're not really connecting with

the people real time all around us. Something like kinetic sand or silly

putty. I've seen different products out there that it's like foam that you can

sculpt or you know clay or putty. I'm thinking mostly of those things that we

can kind of shape and mold that gets our hands doing something and frees us up to

interact in a different way which helps us to express the feelings that we're

having inside so when I say give opportunities to express feelings in a

different way, these are just some examples. You can also use puppets,

puzzles, pictures where you can go through and

describe what's going on in the pictures. There are games that help with this like

charades or pictionary where you practice actually expressing something

in a different format or modality than we're used to and these can be fun too

and give you something to do together as a family that actually has some really

valuable educational impact to it. Alright, let's talk about my fourth tip

today on helping children to be more expressive.. This one has to do with how

you're approaching it as a parent. Practice empathy and reflective

listening. Empathy is where we understand and care how someone else feels. As you

approach your child in a very empathic way where you really do care about how

they feel and you're willing to listen and understand. Now the reflective

listening has to do with feeding back to them what you're getting, usually with a

phrase like this, so it sounds like you're feeling frustrated about what

happened at school today. Now you didn't add anything to the conversation, you

simply listen to what they had to say and then you reflected it to them in an

empathic way so that you show that you understand and care about how they feel.

The neat thing about this step is that it gives our kids permission to feel

whatever they're going to feel and you know what, mom, dad, they're going to feel

it anyway whether they have your permission or not the thing about

expressing permission to them to feel whatever they're going to feel is that

you get to stay in the loop. They're going to feel it anyway. If you haven't

given them expressed permission to feel what they're feeling then you get shut

out of the loop and they're gonna go feel it anyway and probably connect with

their friends instead of you. There's nothing wrong with connecting with

friends kids are going to do this but you want to be in the loop so your

empathy and reflective listening gives the

permission to experience the full range of feelings that they are likely to have

as children or adolescents or teens and you get to stay in the loop, that's the

strategic part of this. I've got one more and I've already alluded to it but tip

number five today is listen. Listen. One of the most powerful things you can do

as a parent. You have two ears and one mouth. Probably that's a little heads up

to something. Let's use them in that ratio. If you're listening at least twice

as much as you're lecturing or talking to them, you're gonna have a better shot

at helping them feel that they can openly express whatever it is they're

feeling. You listen listen listen and the letters in the word listen are exactly

the same as the letters in the word silent. Yeah, you're checking that out

right now, aren't you? Yeah, they are. They're the same now, that's probably

coincidental but it's helpful because you want to just quiet down some of the

noise of your own mouth yapping away but also whatever noise is going on in your

own mind, usually when our kids are talking, we might even be quiet but our

mind is working on our response or how we want to rebut or respond to or maybe

chop down whatever it is that they just shared with us so quiet all that stuff

down. You be silent in your mouth and in your purpose so that they have full

permission to speak and to express whatever that emotion is. You don't have

to be afraid of that as a parent and we do sometimes. Don't we get into a fear

mode where we're like, oh, I don't want my kid to be feeling what they're feeling.

Well it's not up to you so just quiet down and listen. You be there for them as

that benevolent powerful loving force in their life and they already know your

opinions anyway so you don't have to share all of those right now. When they

want advice, they are gonna ask for it and they're most

likely to ask for it if they know that you will listen so listen listen listen.

That's the last tip. Okay, so you know you did it. While you were watching this

video, you thought of some people, didn't you? Maybe in your family, maybe your

friends. Share this episode with them.