How to Express Your Emotions to Children

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Identify your emotions to children:
State you emotions clearly to the child. Do not rely on non-verbal cues alone. Adults sometimes tap their fingers to show irritation, wrinkle their nose to convey disgust, or sigh to indicate exasperation. Children often misinterpret these signs or miss them altogether. They do not automatically know how you feel and, in fact, are often surprised to find that your feelings are quite different from their own. Subtle hints will not get your message across. Children benefit from the explicit communication that words provide. Words are specific and to the point. They help children know how you feel and why you would feel that way:

“I feel pleased…”
“It makes me angry…”
“I’m annoyed…”
“It’s important to me…”
“I wish…”

Become sensitive to your own internal cues that signal a particular emotion.
Perhaps your cheeks get hot when you start to feel angry, your stomach gets jumpy when you are anxious, or your head seems heavy when you are overwhelmed. At first, it will be the more extreme emotions, like anger, fear, or excitement that will be the easiest to express. Eventually, you will become better able to recognize and talk about more moderate emotions such as contentment, irritation, discomfort, or confusion.

Use a wide range of feeling words of differing feelings.
Purposely select an assortment of feeling words. The greater the vocabulary, the more likely you are to attuned to the array of emotions these words represent. If you find yourdself using the same few words over and over, select variations to use in the future and then do it.


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