Emotional literacy is the ability to understand, express and cope with emotions. It’s a skill that children will develop as they grow, but can also be nurtured throughout childhood. There are lots of ways to help your child develop in this area.
Accept their emotion and label it for them. For example, you could say “You seem so excited” or “You’re crying, you must be sad”.
When children learn the words for their emotions, they can tell you what they’re going through. This means they’re less likely to use their behaviour to show how they are feeling.
Try playing games to help to help your child understand different types of emotions.
As your child grows, encourage them to express their emotions in a positive way. Try asking questions like “How can you let me know you’re angry without hitting?” or “Can you think of a different way to let me know you’re frustrated?”
Teach your child ways they can cope with more difficult emotions. You could try:
Use books and TV to help your child learn how other people feel emotions. Use them as starting points for discussions about different emotions. Some resources include:
When reading, watching or playing, ask questions about how the character might feel. You can also do this when talking about school and friends. This can help your child empathise with others.
Questions could include:
Be with your child when they have difficult emotions. Find ways to show that you want to understand. This could include:
Show your child how you take cope with more difficult emotions, and they will learn from you. Let them know what you’re doing as you’re doing it. For example, you could say “I’m feeling tired today so I’m going to go for a walk outside”. See our article on self-care for parents.
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