Understanding, accepting and expressing our emotions is vital for our mental and emotional balance. Every emotion that is not properly processed by our brain can create a lot of unnecessary stress. Imagine how difficult it is for your child to understand the world around him, while dealing with the complexity of the world within him. Every thought, feeling and emotion he is experiencing can create a sudden mood change and a difficult situation for you both. Help him process, understand and express his emotions properly in order to achieve emotional balance.
It doesn’t mean that if your child is very young he is not experiencing a variety of emotions. It’s difficult to distinguish between himself and his environment during the first year of his life but while the child starts to understand that he is an individual he also starts developing thoughts and feeling about himself in relation to his environment and those around him. In order to help your child express his emotions you could follow these steps:
1. Help him understand his emotions. The 6 main human emotions are sadness, anger, happiness, disgust, surprise and fear. You need to help your child identify each emotion he is experiencing. You should try to explain to him every type of emotion and how the people around him usually express each emotion in a healthy way.
2. Ask him how he is feeling. By doing this periodically, he gets the opportunity to reflect on his emotions and exercise identifying them. It’s also a good tool for bonding with your child, something that creates a secure attachment.
3. Model healthy emotional balance. Show your child that you are able to handle your emotions and express them in a healthy way. Resist yelling and show your child that you are capable of emotional regulation. It’s unfair to ask of him to be more emotionally mature than you, even if this might happen sometimes. Tell him that you love him, apologize when you make a mistake, cry if something makes you truly sad. Your behavior will directly determine his.
4. Don’t belittle his feelings. Take him seriously even if you don’t fully understand what he is feeling. Try to use empathy, taking into consideration that his age and experience makes him have a totally different perception over the world. If you belittle his feelings you will only intensify them and make him feel lonely and misunderstood.
5. Present healthy ways of expressing emotions. Try to provide clear examples of how he could express and release his emotions. Love is sometimes as difficult to express as anger or fear. So make sure you guide your child in expressing all emotions towards the people around him. Explain to him why communication is more helpful than throwing tantrums and with patience and time he will surely develop healthy ways of dealing with everything he is feeling.
6. Give options of different coping mechanisms. Your child should know that emotions can be handled and expressed in many ways. And sometimes they don’t need to be taken so seriously. It’s good to know that even if they experience a strong negative emotion they always have an option to just let it flow and it will pass. It’s good to talk about what they are feeling but sometimes a bad mood will just drop by unannounced and it will pass faster if it doesn’t receive attention.