Children who have difficulty expressing and understanding emotional contexts must be taught to understand them. This can be done in several ways. One way is by the parent verbally stating what the child’s emotions are at different settings.
If your child is laughing and playing joyfully, tell her, “I can see you are happy today because your friend is over.” If she is moping around the house with nothing to do, let her know she’s feeling bored today because she can’t find anything enjoyable to do. If she’s angry at you because you won’t let her stay on the computer, tell her that you know she’s angry. Let her know how you know. She’s not smiling. She’s pouting. She doesn’t want to do what you say.
Another effective way of teaching your child feeling words is to express them when you are feeling a particular way. If you are mad because she didn’t do her homework until bedtime, let her know—in a calm manner. “It makes me angry when you wait until bedtime to do your homework, because then you don’t get enough rest for school tomorrow.”
When you express your own anger in a calm way, this lets your daughter see that throwing a fit isn’t necessary to make others aware she’s irritated.
If you are sad after hearing bad news, say to your daughter, “Mommy is sad today, because someone close to Mommy is in the hospital.”
Here’s one way to help remind yourself about discussing emotion words with your child. Make a list of emotion words (sad, happy, angry, hurt, excited, jealous, hopeful, love, scared, shy etc.) and post them on your wall. Better yet, pick up a feelings poster from a school supply store and post it on the door for your child. She will see the different faces of children expressing emotions with the word for the emotion beneath the picture. This will help reinforce the concepts of emotions in your child so she will be able to express herself verbally rather than through uncontrollable outbursts.
Children who are able to express their sadness, pain, resentment and other problems in words are less in need of acting out inappropriately to get their feelings understood. When they express their problems verbally, you need to be there empathetically to listen and respond with compassion. No one likes to reveal a problem that their having to someone and in turn have the person brush them off or belittle the problem as irrelevant. This only breeds resentment. It is important that your child receives the emotional support she needs during times of distress if you want to encourage her to avoid losing control of her emotions.
This is an excerpt from Grandma Jeddah’s FREE e-Book: Discipline without Disrespecting: 8 Tips to Taming Your Muslim child's Temper. To download your own personal copy of this FREE e-Book or receive Grandma Jeddah's FREE newsletter, visit her at http://www.grandmajeddah.com/
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