Helping Your Preschooler Understand Emotions

Taken from (a very informative website you should check out).

By Traci Geiser

The toddler and preschool years are filled with emotional outbursts, and tears, temper tantrums and even shyness may have parents at their wits ends. This is all new to your preschooler, as she is just learning to recognize her feelings. Helping her identify her feelings and giving her some strategies for dealing with them in constructive ways are all part of growing up. So what can parents do at home to help foster their child’s emotional development?

Brandy Franks, Founder and President of Absorbent Minds Montessori School in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, uses this technique with preschoolers to help children identify feelings: “One thing we do is make a box with pictures of children showing different emotions. We use happy, sad, angry, embarrassed, excited and shy. Each side of the box has one emotion with the word and the picture. The children will pass the box around the circle in the morning and pick a face to describe how they feel. Each child then tells us what happened to make them feel that way or why they feel that way. We emphasize that it is ok to feel any emotion, and we teach the children to accept the way others feel. It is a great way for a child to express themselves without really knowing they are doing so.”

Not sure what to do to help your child deal with her emotions? Try a few of these easy to implement ideas:

  • Talk it Through After a child has had an emotional outburst and had a chance to calm down, take a few minutes to discuss the events. Ask your child how she felt, what made her feel that way and how she handled her feelings. Your response might be something like this: “I’m sorry you felt angry that your little brother took your toy, but hitting him is not OK. What else could you do instead of hitting?” Have a discussion about other alternatives, such as asking the sibling to give it back, finding him another toy to play with and asking him to trade or asking Mom for help. Remind your child that using her words instead of her hands is always a better choice when she is angry.
  • Act it Out Find a time to play a game of emotional charades with the whole family. Think of some scenarios that might cause a child to feel different emotions such as angry, sad, lonely, embarrassed, excited, happy and shy. You can use events that have actually happened with your children or make up stories. Have each player listen to the scenario and then show how she would feel and what she would do. Have a group discussion about other ways to handle the situation. This is a great time for Mom and Dad to share stories from your childhood about similar situations and both the good and not so good choices you might have made and what the consequences were.

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