How did you learn about feelings? How do we learn about feelings? How do we teach our kids about feelings?
Do you remember in grade school singing If You’re Happy and You Know It? What was your favorite part of that? I always loved turning myself around! We learn about feelings by experiencing and talking about them. (Cue: If you’re happy and you know it!).
We all have our own ideas about feelings. I often hear people talk about “good” feelings and “bad” feelings. Let me turn this upside down for you: the truth is that all feelings are just feelings – things that create sensations in our bodies and minds. Having a better understanding about feelings ourselves is the first place to start when we think about teaching our kiddos about them. So come on and do some self exploration; what feelings are you most comfortable with and which ones do you avoid like plague?
Hint: most people enjoy feeling happy, excited and content.
Another Hint: most people do NOT enjoy feeling sad, lonely or scared.
When I work with parents on teaching their kiddos about feelings, I start with what I just explained: 1. We ALL feel feelings in our bodies AND kids haven’t yet learned how to turn those feelings off like some of us. 2. Feelings aren’t good or bad.
From there, to build an emotionally intelligent kiddo, it starts with seeing them and connecting with them. When they are little (1 year to 4 years) this can be the best time to begin to help kiddos label and understand feelings. You can help your kiddos by giving them the word for what they are feeling in their bodies.
For example: “You are frustrated right now.”
Many parents will ask me “But Meagan, what if I label it wrong?” Just by asking that question, you are demonstrating that you are trying to figure out your kiddo-good for you! As your kiddos get older they ARE going to tell you when you label that feeling sad but for them it’s MAD! And again – LOOK at you, TRYING to figure out your kiddo! You rock.
And LOOK at that emotionally intelligent child!! By providing your child with the words for their body sensations, you are empowering them and educating them!
The other really cool thing about labeling our kiddos’ feelings is in addition to educating them, we help them feel seen and heard. And isn’t that what we all want? When you sit down with your loved one after a hard day, and they can empathize with you and they just get it doesn’t that just do wonders for your soul? That’s what we are providing for our kiddos in small doses.
Side note: they may not always appreciate the labeling of feelings (enter 10 year old through teenager) but again LOOK at you, TRYING to figure out your kiddo! This is exactly what parenting is: learning about your kiddo and teaching them about themselves.
Are you ready to try feeling reflections with your kiddo?
Click here to start with this free feelings reflection worksheet!
If you think you might need more help with feeling reflections, contact us to set up an appointment with one of our parenting experts!
Meagan Jackson is our resident expert in all things parenting. She specializes in working with tough family relationships, and has over a decade of experience helping parents gain confidence in parenting. Contact us to schedule an appointment with Meagan today!