Let's Talk About Emotions
From the moment they enter the world, kids begin to experience feelings of joy, fear, excitement, sadness and so many more. These big emotions can often be overwhelming for children with sensory processing disorder (SPD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), learning or developmental difficulties and identifying or overcoming these feelings can present a daily challenge. Our job as therapists and parents is to support kids in dealing with their emotions, showing them how to resolve their feelings in a healthy way and how to react to the feelings of others.
So what can you do to help kids build emotional intelligence and resilience?
Identify your child's emotions as they arise throughout the day.
As your child goes about their day they will likely experience a plethora of emotions and by helping your child identify and manage these feelings and as they arise, you can help them build emotional intelligence for life. Take the time to explain to your child that our emotions have a purpose and that acknowledging why we're sad, happy or angry can help us overcome the physical symptoms associated with each feeling. For example, if your child has achieved something amazing, get excited with them, share in their joy and explain why they feel this. If your child is feeling agitated, sit with them and talk it out. They might be experiencing anger or anxiety and by identifying this emotion, we can figure out cause, effect and help kids resolve their feelings in a healthy way.
Avoid dismissing big emotions and recognise them as an opportunity for teaching.
We get it, helping your child through a meltdown is never easy and how you react to the emotions of others models empathy to your kids, teaching them how to react in social situations with others. We love this visual resource by Dr. Gottman on practicing the five steps to emotion coaching.
Explain the emotions of others in a natural context.
You'll often come across emotionally charged situations as you watch TV, play in the park or go grocery shopping and by simply explaining to your child the emotions they see, you can help them understand how others present and deal with their feelings.
Raising Children explains; "Autistic children often also find it hard to use emotion to understand social interactions. They might not notice when others are upset or angry. They might show less concern for others and have less ability to comfort others or share emotions. They might misread situations and respond with emotions that are off the mark. For example, a child might not comfort a sibling who falls over, or might laugh because they don’t recognise that the child is hurt".
By taking the time to identify and explain the feelings of others, we can help kids build their own emotional intelligence, develop empathy and strengthen their ability to support others in social situations.
Explore emotions through learning resources
You can take initiative in teaching your kids emotional intelligence through books, movies, games and so many more fantastic tools. Check out our Emotions Dominoes, Puzzle, and Memory Game on our online store or make learning emotions a family affair with the Social Skills Board Game which helps your child develop and learn new social skills and behaviours simply by playing, laughing and having fun with friends and family. Stories are also an amazing resource for explaining emotions to young kids so check out this article by Huffpost for some excellent recommendations for books about thoughts and feelings.
FINALLY recognise emotions as an opportunity for intimacy
Sometimes kids just need to be heard and supported through the tough times and will often feel calmer knowing they can express their feelings in a safe space. We can't always identify why we feel the way we do and something as simple as a cuddle and conversation can go a long way in resolving emotional conflict.