By Melodie Veldhuizen
It is difficult for toddlers to define their emotions, to know how to give expression to them and how to talk about them, especially when they still do not have the appropriate vocabulary. Children who understand their emotions and have learned the right way of expressing them, will be less inclined to woedeuitbarstings, aggressie and uittartende gedrag and will also emosioneel sterk .
Adults find it difficult to describe to children emotions such as grief, fear, alarm or excitement because they are abstract concepts. Because emotions affects every decision or action of children, it is essential to teach them about it from as early an age as possible.
Experts advise parents on how to help their toddlers with it
Teach your toddler the words that express the most common feelings, such as glad, angry, sad, frightened, or excited. One of the ways of doing this is by talking about the characters in storybooks or on DVDs and asking “What do you think Peter Pan is feeling like now?” Or let them watch DVDs/videos (Elf Feelings Video) or read books that deal specifically with emotions and talk about it. Discuss the characters’ emotions or possible reasons for the specific emotion. Refer specifically to facial expressions, body language and behaviour.
- Make him aware of how his behaviour affects other people’s emotions
Talking to your toddler about other people’s emotions by, for instance, saying: “Sister is feeling bad because you don’t want her to play with your doll”, teaches her that other people experience the same emotions. This will teach your child to take note of what they say or how they behave towards others. Follow this up by, for instance, by asking how he would feel if somebody else behaved towards him in that way. Teaching your child to put himself in somebody else’s place teaches him empathy.
Set an example every day of how to say what you feel, for example that you are angry because he does not want to pick up his toys.
Regularly ask your toddler: “How are you feeling now?”, especiallyin specific situations where emotions crop up. Use a poster depicting different emotions, let him pick one that reflects his emotions and talk to him about it. When you notice a specific emotion in him, say: “Mommy sees that you are excited because we are going to the park.” By linking a name to a real emotion you help your child to expand his emotion vocabulary.
- Teach your toddler handling mechanisms
Your child must always know that it is fine to experience positive and negative emotions but that there are appropriate ways of expressing them. Toddlers must learn that they may not hit a friend when he is angry with him or, when he is frustrated because he is struggling with a jigsaw puzzle, throw all the pieces all over the room. For instance, teach him proactively how to handle woede te bestuur en ongemaklike emosies. He could go to his room by himself or go and play in a quiet spot in the garden to calm down when he is upset. When he is upset because a friend doesn’t want to play with him, discuss different possible ways of handling it other than becoming aggressief . The ABC’s of Calming Down is a cute aid with 26 alphabetically listed strategies to help your child calm down. Children who know how to vent their emotions in the right way usually have good human relations and they make friends more easily because they know that their actions may hurt other people.
Reward positive behaviour. For instance, praise him when he airs negative feelings in a socially acceptable way. Tell him that you’re proud of him because he did not throw a tantrum in the store because he was disappointed that he could not get an ice-cream. Or reward him with stickers on an emotion chart (emotion icons) for good behaviour. When he has earned ten stickers, he may play in the park a little longer. Rewards alert your child to the fact that you are watching him all the time.
It is no use telling your child how to behave in certain situations if you do precisely the opposite. When you get angry when somebody forces his way into the queue in front of you, say: “I’m so irritated now” but, by giving a friendly smile, show that you do not give in to your emotions so that your child can see. Your toddler will imitate your behaviour, positive or negative. Therefore, set a good example.
- Use every possible opportunity
Learning about emotions is an ongoing process where every possible opportunity must be used as an opportunity to learn. Therefore, always be on the lookout for situations where you can talk to your toddler about emotions (his own and those of others) where you as parents can set an example and where you can teach your child more positive ways of handling his emotions. Show pictures of the emotions you sing about.
- Sing songs in which emotions are portrayed.
The Feeling Song
Show pictures of the emotions you sing about.
If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.
If you’re surprised and you know it say “Oh my!”
If you’re sad and you know it rub your eyes “Boo hoo”
If you’re scared and you know it shiver and shake.
If you’re sleepy and you know it close your eyes.
If you’re angry and you know it stomp your feet.
Traantjies kan ek soms nie keer
Traantjies wys my hart is seer.
Mamma soen dit gou-gou weg, dan voel alles sommer reg. (Estelle Henning)
Honger laat my magie grom,
vaak wees maak my ogies dom.
Kwaai wees laat my loop en brom…
Soet wees maak my Ma se blom. (Annelize Blom)
An example is to make a cube with an emoticon on each side and paste the description there. Let one child roll the cube like a dice. The picture that appears on top must be portrayed by one child. With the next round it is another child’s turn. hier .
For additional information read here: Feelings Task Cards.
Kiddie Matters. https://www.kiddiematters.com/9-ways-to-teach-children-about-feelings/
Very Well Family. https://www.verywellfamily.com/how-to-teach-kids-about-feelings-1095012