How to promote your child to share feelings
Over the past month, my own child have came to me asking for help with feelings she was exhibiting. This was nothing new to me because my children have been taught from a very young age that displaying emotions are okay and normal, as well as learning effective ways to cope with those emotions.
Recently those conversations have became more real. The election, my youngest being attacked by a dog, anxiety around moving into a new house, new school, etc. Children have feelings too, we have to learn effective ways to allow our kids to manifest those truths, so as parents we can shape them into healthy adults who are able to process their emotions safely.
This activity is a exploration learning about how and where children "wear" their feelings on their bodies and what we can do with them. This activity works well with children of all ages regardless if they have a mental health impairment or not. Use your discretion on how to present it to different ages of children and be aware of what it might look like. For instance my 2 year old was not able to have a detailed conversation. I used simple language like mad, sad, and happy and coded those feelings with specific colors. My very mature 9 year old was able to really have a in depth conversation around specific incidences and used a wide range of feeling vocabulary.
1. Have your child identify at least 3 strong emotions they have experienced over the past week or so. These feelings can be both negative and positive. I would recommend a few of each to balance things out and not be hyper focused on only the negative.
2. Use a cut out of a body, or draw a body that will represent the child.
3. Code each feeling with a color and create a key so that children can go back and understand what color goes with what feeling.
4. Have your child paint or color where they hold or show that emotion via internally or externally on the body. For example, if I used yellow for happy, I may color my face yellow because when I am happy I smile. If angry is red, I may color my stomach area red, because when I get angry by belly tightens up.
5. Begin a discussion on when, what, where, and how. Allow your child to express emotions without judgement. Discuss how some feelings are felt in the same places and how it can be beneficial when they are feeling the negative feeling to try to think of ways to get the positive feeling back. Most important remember to VALIDATE. Nothing more annoying then telling a child they can't feel a certain way. Or they are too young to feel.
6. Help them problem solve. No matter if the feeling is fear, anger, being left out, sad. Practice and teach children what they can do and who they can talk to.