Helping children communicate about emotions

When emotions run high communication is difficult - for both children and adults.

I am lucky to have two sisters that I am close with. However, close doesn’t always mean we see eye to eye. Last week my sister and I were disagreeing about politics.

My sister made a comment that I took very personally. I was so upset I couldn’t even finish the disagreement.  Later that night I called my sister back and told her how surprised I was that I was unable to talk while feeling so upset.

I see similar reactions in my young children, aged 3 and 6, when they are fighting.  The six-year old is taller and thinks faster than her younger brother. When they are fighting over a toy she can get her own way by putting it out of his reach.

My three-year old’s response is to either hit his sister or start screaming.  I catch myself telling them to “use your words” but the reminder on its own doesn’t actually help them to do so.

When emotions run high communication is difficult – for both children and adults. When parents teach their children the language and skills to manage emotions, children grow into individuals who have better relationships at school, at home and at work.

Here are a few tips to help your children communicate about emotions:

Help toddlers learn the names of emotions (happy, sad, mad, tired, and scared). Talk about your own emotions and the emotions of characters in books and on TV.

Help children learn to regulate their own emotions . Show them how to take a few moments to breathe when emotions run high and how to come back when they are feeling calmer.

Give children the words instead of telling them to “use your words.”  When you see your child expressing himself by hitting or using other unacceptable behaviours, tell him what he could say instead. For example, you can say “Scott tell Suzie how you feel. Say ‘when you put the bear where I can’t reach it I feel mad. I want a turn.’”

Teach your children simple phrases that help them talk about emotions. For example “I don’t like that” and “please do something different” are very useful during conflict.  Older pre-schoolers and elementary school age children are very capable of explaining their feelings with the formula of “when you ____ I feel _____”

Calmly coaching children to communicate in times of high emotion and modelling these skills yourself can help children become successful communicators. These valuable communication skills help children become good problem-solvers and feel more confident about their relationships with others.

Julie Lewis is a registered speech-language pathologist with Interior Health.

Just Posted

Outbreak prompts advisory for visitors to extended care wing in Trail hospital

A respiratory infection has been active in Poplar Ridge Pavilion since Monday, advises IH

RDCK moves ahead with Castlegar rec complex upgrade plan

Board approves grant application for $13 million from provincial, federal governments

Scammers using Castlegar home for rental fraud

Local realtors say the problem is happening more frequently with their properties

Trail police seek to ID more loot recovered during weapons search

Trail RCMP recovered numerous weapons and stolen items after search at Fifth Avenue residence

Last of southern Selkirk caribou relocated to Revelstoke area

One cow from the South Selkirk herd and two from the Purcells were moved this week

B.C. opioid crisis to get same world-renowned treatment approach as HIV/AIDS

A program that focuses on treatment as prevention will roll out Jan. 17

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Vancouver Island photographer makes National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour for Marston from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Ex-Liberal candidate in Burnaby, B.C., says volunteer wrote controversial post

Karen Wang dropped out following online post singling out NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

In limbo: Leftover embryos challenge clinics, couples

Some are outright abandoned by people who quit paying storage fees and other couples struggle with tough decisions

BREAKING: Jury finds man accused of killing B.C. girl, 12, guilty

Twelve-year-old Monica Jack disappeared in May 1978 while riding her bike along a highway in Merritt, B.C.

Most Read