How to help children cope with feelings and emotions ?
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The way we interpret and respond to our feelings has a major impact on our behaviour, choices, and how well we cope with and enjoy life.
You can help your child move from a negative state where they’re feeling upset or distressed to a more positive one – where they feel safe, calm and ready to interact with their world in a positive way. Try a few of the tips below – over time you’ll figure out what works best for your child.
- Helping them to slow their breathing down – by blowing bubbles or pretending to blow out birthday candles – and encouraging them to take deep breaths.
- Encouraging children to imagine they are a floppy rag doll and to give themselves a shake. This helps release tension they might be holding in their body.
- Helping children to imagine and pretend they are a favourite animal taking a nap. This encourages kids to close their eyes and relax.
- Developing a strategy to use when they’re feeling out of control, such as having a calm thought or picture; taking time out by reading a calming story together; or talking with you or another supportive adult about how they feel.
- Expressing their emotions in productive ways – this might include drawing, using play-dough or acting their feelings out with toys.
- Increasing their ‘feel good’ hormones through exercise, positive social experiences, a healthy diet, and plenty of rest.
Emotional development stages
Babies feel basic emotions such as joy, anger, sadness and fear. As they begin to develop a sense of self, they experience more complex emotions like shyness, surprise, elation, embarrassment, shame, guilt, pride and empathy and at this age, their emotions are mainly made up of physical reactions – such as their heart racing or butterflies in their stomach – and behaviour.
As they grow, children's emotions are increasingly inﬂuenced by their thinking. They become more aware of their own feelings and better able to recognise and understand those of other people.