Monday, 7 November 2016

The Importance of Teaching Children Emotional Awareness

Children in their twos, threes, and fours seem to be uncontrollable. Many people think it’s normal for them to throw tantrums, even if it meant an entire day of grumpiness. Meltdowns and tantrums are painful reminders that these children are not yet aware of how they can regulate their emotions. While many parents, teachers, and caregivers believe that children will eventually outgrow these behaviors, they can actually resort to teaching kids about emotional awareness. Below are ways how they can help a child learn to determine and control their feelings.

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Give emotions a name
When children cry, there must be a why. Instead of asking them only the “why ” teach them to identify the feeling by giving the emotion a name. For example, teachers can say, “You cried because you were sad daddy left. It’s okay to be sad.” Or, “Did you cry because you were mad John got your toy?” Putting a label or a name on feelings will help them learn about them better.

Make feelings or emotions normal
The phrase “boys (or big girls) don’t cry,” is detrimental to a child’s emotional awareness. Crying, laughing, and other manifestations of feelings should be deemed as normal. Of course, when the crying or the laughing is excessive or inappropriate, adults can call it out. But when young children are taught to bottle up their emotions, they might be prone to having depression or anxiety as they grow older as they’ve been taught that certain emotions are not acceptable.

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Develop empathy by teaching them to recognize another person’s feelings
Children who learn how to empathize respond to others’ feelings appropriately. Empathy is an important skill when building lasting, life-long relationships. When children discuss their feelings, it is best that caregivers liken the situation with them as “adults.” As children realize that adults and their peers have feelings, too, they learn to develop empathy.

Jonathan B. Lauter, M.D., is an accomplished New York-based child and adolescent psychiatrist. Read similar articles about child development by visiting this blog.

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