two children sitting in the grass, one is angry, one is sad

How to Help Kids Learn About Emotions in a Healthy Way

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As children age, they start to develop and use their emotions. While there are general development stages, you can still help your kids learn about emotions in a healthy way. It’s important for running a home daycare and working with kids.

a child showing a silly face kids learning about emotions

Here are the emotional development stages, along with some fun ways to help your child learn and express their emotions! For more on kids, check these out:

Children learn emotions gradually. However, as soon as your baby is born, they can understand emotions, even if it’s not the way we typically do.

Babies are super aware of emotions, so if you are upset, so are they. As babies develop and become toddlers, they are more aware of their emotions and start to express them. Typically it is in the form of toddler tantrums.

a child showing laid back feelings

Learning Emotions

Even though tantrums can be frustrating, try to understand it is just your child expressing their feelings in the only way they know-how.

With further guidance from you, they can turn away from tantrums and healthily express their emotions.

Here are a few key developmental stages for a child’s emotions.

  • Newborn to 1 Year Old
    • Smiling
    • Facial expressions
    • Self-soothing techniques
    • Expressing some emotions (anger, happiness, fear)
  • Toddlers (1-2 years old)
    • Pointing to things
    • Interactive play
    • Start to develop empathy
    • Strong emotions
    • Gain confidence and pride
  • Preschoolers (3-5 years old)
    • More control over their impulses and emotions
    • Become more social with others
    • Test their limits
    • Learn to control their anger as well
    • Build a huge imagination
  • Children (5+)
    • A better grasp of their emotions
    • Can control their anger
    • Can talk through their emotions better
    • Look to you as an example
    • Knows the majority of emotions

Now let’s take a look at a few tips to help you manage your child’s emotions so they can learn and develop their feelings in a healthy way.

a child with smiley and frowny face cards showing emotions and showing how kids learn about emotions.

1.   Read Emotion Books

There are so many books on emotions nowadays for kids. The best part about this is there are some for every stage of emotional development.

Start young with your babies! Read these books daily, and when they become toddlers, they will already have a solid foundation. Most toddlers will learn to recognize and share their feelings after reading a few books on emotions.

It is never too early to start, and kids love to cuddle up and read books with you all the time.

2.   Show By Example

You are the best way to teach your child. They look to you and will follow every single thing you do. Ever see your child hit someone or something and wonder where they learned that only to realize you did the other day too? I think we’ve all been there.

Kids learn through mimicking and watching us. Be especially careful with what you do and model what you want to see in your kids.

3.   Meditate and Deep Breathe

There are so many amazing apps or YouTube videos, especially some dedicated to kids, that will help them learn to regulate their anger and stronger emotions.

Many apps use words and movements that children understand such as rainbow breaths, or butterfly wings. These apps use colorful visuals as well as calming voices to help relax your child and teach them to relax. Find one that works for your child and add it to your toolkit.

4.   Always Talk About Feelings

Children do not know what feelings or emotions are if you don’t tell them. So talk about them all the time! Ask them if they are upset, even when it is obvious. This will help them learn and understand these feelings in themselves.

Name each feeling as you see it in your child. Even if they are too complex, it will still set the foundation for them later on. You can also talk about how other people are feeling and how your child made them feel to help kids learn about emotions.

Always try to tell your child your own emotions. Tell them when you are mad or upset. Often we want only to show our children the good, but it is crucial to show them there are bad times, and that’s okay too.

Children need to learn to recognize both the good and the bad emotions they and others are feeling. And that all starts with you leading by example.

5.   Sing Songs

What child does not love to sing songs? Teach them feelings and emotions through songs!

There are so many fun ones that will help your child be silly and use their senses to help teach them about their emotions. There are also fun fingerplays or rhymes dealing with emotions as well that kids love to do as well.

6.   TV Shows

While we do want to limit our children’s TV time, they will watch TV at some point in time. Why not give them a TV show or movie that helps kids learn about emotions?

Many toddlers love Daniel Tiger as it is a great one that always talks about feelings in every episode. They even have songs dealing with feelings as well.

7.   Allow Them to Express Emotions

Kids will get upset. It’s natural. They will want to hit and scream. Instead of just telling them no, allow them to express their feelings.

Don’t get me wrong, hitting and yelling are not okay, at least not all the time.  If they are hitters, when they are upset, try this: “I can see you are upset and want to hit. We do not hit people, but if you feel like hitting something will help you, you can go hit your pillow.”

The same thing could be for screaming. Sometimes kids just need a release, so create a healthy one for them!

These are just a few simple ways to help your child learn and express their emotions in a healthy way. Teaching emotions is so crucial to help your child. You can do it in so many different ways too. You can do this!

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