The social isolation caused by the pandemic has delayed children’s social and emotional growth. Fixing the situation calls for encouraging, not negating, the expression of how they are feeling. Children need to recognize their feelings and learn to name them. Emotions and feelings are as complex in children as they are in adults, except that adults have the vocabulary and understanding that children lack. You can boost your child’s social and emotional growth by teaching the language of emotions. This expression is developmentally based, where children up to around age five can learn concepts like sad, mad, happy and even others such as scared, and excited. The terms get more specific as the age of the child increases. The first example shows a feelings wheel that parents use to teach young children to identify and name their emotions. The other example shows more specific and sophisticated choices for older children. Emotions/Feelings wheels and charts with a variety of labels and increased specificity can be found on the internet.
Naming your emotion is an important step in developing self-awareness, a foundational part of social and emotional growth. The better children can communicate what they are feeling, the more in control they will feel. I wonder if we can start a new cultural norm: If you ask me how I am, I am going to tell you, really.
In my next blog you can read: My children are naming their feelings. Now what?