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Teaching children about emotions 

It is Children's Mental Health week and one of the ways to help children is to ensure they understand that it is ok to talk about feelings and give them a space to do so.

We aren’t born knowing how to walk and we also aren’t born knowing how to deal with our emotions, solve problems, or handle disappointments. Helping children to understand and manage their emotions is a key to their future health and development. It’s never too early to begin helping children understand their wide range of human feelings and develop coping skills.

So what might be helpful to achieve this? Here are a few suggestions from various sources:

When you share about your day, either about what you have experienced or what is planned for the day, share how what happened made, or what you think will happen makes, you feel. Also share how you handle those feelings. Invite children to talk about their day as well and their feelings. Share about a time when you felt similarly and how you coped.

When you spot a good opportunity, ask your child to look at other faces and think about how they are feeling. Make sure you cover a range of emotions not just negative ones.

When you watch TV together or read a book together, talk about how the characters are feeling, what their body language is saying.

As you can see you are moving away from the activity, what happened, to the emotions you and people are going through and this opens up deeper conversations.

Praise children when they use emotion words when talking to their friends or relatives.

Get children to draw faces and label the people's emotions and also use colours for emotions.

Read together a book about emotions. Here is a selection; How are you feeling today?, various books by Brian Moses, Have You Filled A Bucket Today,  The Grouchies.

Perhaps you can incorporate some of these activities into parents and toddler initiatives and family ministry?

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Geoff Knott, 07/02/2017

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