How many times have you told your kids to use their words? Since my kids were babies, I always encouraged them to use their words to express themselves and their emotions. There is nothing worse then a child using a made up word or sound to get their point across (obviously, this does not apply to a child who is mental challenged or has another disability that impedes them from communicating properly!). Not only can it get highly annoying, but it also makes it difficult for people outside of the child’s small family unit to understand and attend to their needs. I remember one scenario that took place between my eldest son, when he was about one and half years old, and my Mom. He was riding in the car with my Mom and he kept asking for “Becky and Suzie”. My Mom tried every word she could think of trying to decipher what he wanted. It wasn’t until they got home and he found his “blankie (blanket) and seussy (pacifier)”, that she finally understood what he wanted. To this day, I have always encouraged the proper word to avoid this type of frustration and confusion.
Although my older children are fully verbal, I still find myself instructing them to use their words. When I say this, I’m encouraging them to use the words to communicate to me how they are feeling and what they want rather than resorting to tears and temper tantrums. Growing up communication was always stressed as one of the most important element of any personal relationship. It allows you to understand the needs, wants, and reasons to why people react they way they do. Communication is also very important to help you deal with pent up emotions. If you are sad or discourage, hiding rather then expressing your emotions can cause you to become disagreeable or distraught. The same can be said for positive emotions as well. If you are happy or excited and you hid your emotions, you can become overly giddy or distracted. Expression your feelings to another person can allow you to express your emotions and intellectually process how to deal with them.
Teaching children to express their feelings is very difficult. Many times children feel sad and blue, but don’t understand what is wrong. As a parent, it is our job to teach them and guide them through the understanding and processing of their feelings.
Ways to teach children about Emotions:
-Model healthy behaviors (i.e. say “I was really mad when that car pulled out in front of me”)
-Reinforce positive use of emotions (i.e. “I like the way you told your sister you were mad that she stole your lego”
-Recognize other peoples feelings (i.e. “Your sister was sad you broke favourite mug”)
-Identify feelings (i.e. “How did that make you feel?”)
Our favourite way to Identify feelings is with
“Parenting can be complicated! Expressing yourself doesn’t have too!”
Fun Fridge magnets is a large magnet sheet with different faces representing the different emotions that a person can experience. Each sheet of emotions contains an individual maker, an “I Feel” badge, that allows you to circle the emotion you are experiencing and share it with the rest of your feeling. This was great learning tool for my children. We were provided a “Kid Moods Magnet”, a “Parent Moods Magnet”, and an “I Feel” badge for each member of my family (Blue for boys, pink for girls). The first things the kids and I did were read through the feelings expressed on the “Kid Moods Magnet”. We talked about what each feeling meant and I had the children suggest a time or scenario when they felt that emotion. After our discussion, we placed the two magnets on the fridge and the children selected a face to represent how they were feeling. Since that day, my children wake up every morning and adjust their “I Feel” badge. Sometimes, after a fight or when an exciting event arises, my sons’ will run to the fridge and adjust their badge. DD1 love looking at the faces and although she doesn’t understand the emotions its interesting to see that she usually chooses the happier emotions most often.
I think the Fun Fridge magnets are a good learning tool for kids and it allows them to express their emotions in a positive, non threatening manner. I am looking forward to seeing if they help my children express themselves in a future emotional situation.