- Firstly, Children’s own needs have to be met before they can meet other’s needs
- Children must have positive, nurturing relationships with the important people in their lives. Challenging relationships can cause stress for children and toxic stress can cause great challenges for children to understand and manage their own emotions.
- Emotional understanding is an innate maturation process that is fostered within a social setting such as helping children to recognise the physiological component of the emotion (what is happening in their bodies) while labelling their emotions for them.
- Play allows children to experience and express different emotions, and to externalise the internalised. Encourage play in all its forms.
- Children need to be able to discuss any issues that arise that they are scared or unsure about. Creating space for communication is KEY so they feel heard, that they don’t have to carry the emotion alone, and that they trust they will be listened to if they open up.
- When they see emotional literate adults around them who are identifying, using and managing their own emotions in a healthy way.
- Give children the language to express themselves through modelling use of it, introducing words around emotion in story books and specific books that address emotions (see blog on therapeutic stories) and discussing emotions at home.
- Children should be encouraged to express all emotions, they should not be sheltered from what you perceive as “not good”, even anger. Anger is an important emotion, however how it is expressed is important, there are healthy ways to express anger and unhealthy ways-help children see the difference between the two. Emotions can be seen as messengers, telling us something.
- Remember: understanding and respecting children’s emotions is not a softly softly approach- it is giving them the chance to understand the totality of their experience.
Let’s Talk About It
Do you have a creative way of teaching your children that emotional literacy is important?