Helping small children deal with big feelings
Little children need our help to learn how to deal with big emotions. Here are some tips from The Growing Child newsletter distributed by Lifestart
When adults with psychological problems go to a therapist, they usually must learn how to express their feelings adequately. Children, on the other hand, have a natural tendency to express their feelings openly—as long as their parents don’t try to repress them.
Believe it or not, it is healthy for children to express negative feelings and get them out of their systems. In this way they can learn how to express those feelings in an appropriate manner. They will also learn how to control the actions that may accompany their feelings.
Just as little children should be permitted to express themselves; they also should be helped to understand that their parents appreciate how they feel. How can parents do this? Psychologists Carl Rogers and Haim Ginott recommend that parents “reflect feelings.” This means to show that you genuinely understand how a child feels by putting his feelings into words and reflecting them back to him, like a mirror.
With a toddler it is easiest sometimes to use his very words. For example, suppose your child comes to you crying and complaining, “Billy hit me!” You answer, “You’re crying and you’re angry because Billy hit you.” What you have done is put his feelings into words and reflected them back to him. Then he knows you have some understanding about how he feels. This is particularly important for the child whose vocabulary is not yet adequate to convey his feelings .
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