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Understanding feelings in kids
Kids deal with many of the same feelings adults do
Kids experience complex feelings just like adults. They get frustrated, excited, nervous, sad, jealous, frightened, worried, angry and embarrassed.
However young kids usually don’t have the vocabulary to talk about how they are feeling. Instead they communicate their feelings in other ways.
Kids can express their feelings through facial expressions, through their body, their behaviour and play. Sometimes they may act out their feelings in physical, inappropriate or problematic ways.
From the moment kids are born, they start learning the emotional skills they need to identify, express and manage their feelings. They learn how to do this through their social interactions and relationships with important people in their lives such as parents, grandparents and carers.
Being a parent means you’ve got a really important role to play in helping kids understand their feelings and behaviours. Kids need to be shown how to manage their feelings in positive and constructive ways.
When kids learn to manage their emotions in childhood it leads to positive attitudes and behaviours later in life
Kids who learn healthy ways to express and cope with their feelings are more likely to:
Sometimes kids don’t have the words to express how they feel and may act out these feelings in ways that are problematic
Your child might hit or throw toys when angry or frustrated. They might have a hard time settling down after an exciting day. Use this as a learning opportunity to teach your child to express their feeling in a positive way. Teach your child to act on feelings by:
Taking some deep breaths
Asking for help or support
Walking away and taking time out
Finding a different way to do things
Taking time to relax before trying again
Trying to solve the problem with words
Saying what they feel instead of acting it out
Talking with a grown-up about what is happening
Spending time with a loved one or asking for a hug or cuddle
Describing what they are feeling or reactions in their body
You play an important role in your child’s emotional development
Helping your child identify their feelings is the first step in helping them manage them.
Kids who are able to identify, understand, express and manage a wide range of feelings experience long term benefits to their mental health and wellbeing.
If your child needs some extra support talking about and expressing their feelings, we’re here to help! Encourage them to talk to a Kids Helpline counsellor today.
If you are looking for more digital services and resources, check out Head to Health.
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