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Exploring Emotions And Reactions Of Children Hand-in-Hand

Team StoryWeavers|January 15, 2021|

Exploring Emotions With Children

Most parents have experienced intense emotions at some point and have a fair understanding of how difficult it can be to manage these emotions. Most issues that we as adults think are minor such as losing a pencil box or a broken toy are a big deal to children. 

When parents see children experience intense emotions over seemingly minor issues, the urge to soothe them takes over ever and parents end up saying something like — “It is not a big deal, don’t worry,” which may cause them to be more upset. While some children take it in their stride, others could find it extremely difficult to deal with this. 

In this article, we will cover:

Four Things We Need to Teach Children About Emotions

The book Emotion Regulation in Children and Adolescents A Practitioner’s Guide by Michael A. Southam-Gerow, an Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Paediatrics at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), encourages parents to teach these four concepts about emotions to children to help them build a foundation that will enable them to learn more emotions. 

  • Both environmental and internal factors cause emotions in us. What happens outside us and inside us both contributes to our emotions. 
  • We can experience multiple emotions at the same time. For example: Anger and sadness when someone breaks our favourite toy. 
  • We feel emotions in our bodies. Our body processes different emotions differently. For example: Fear increases our heart rate.
  • People can change or hide their emotions. What we see someone experiencing may not be what they feel. For example: Someone constantly smiling, i.e. showing joy may be feeling intense sadness. 

The emphasis is on the fact that we need to know something about the person to understand what they might be feeling in a given situation. 

How To Explore Your Child’s Emotions And Reactions With Them

We have established that emotions are dynamic, and we need a bit of information about the person to understand how they might feel or react in a situation. The best bet would be to explore their emotions and reactions with them. The same is true for children. 

The book by Pat Harvey and Jeanine Penzo, Parenting a Child Who Has Intense Emotions, has listed an activity called A Story Of Emotion that can help everyone understand where their emotions and reactions are stemming from. This activity sets the foundation for changing or managing these emotions and reactions. 

  • Question 1: How did you feel before the event happened?
  • Question 2: What happened? (Describe the situation as you remember it.)
  • Question 3: What words came to mind after the event? What did you think?
  • Question 4: How did your body feel? 
  • Question 5: How would you describe what you were feeling?
  • Question 6: How did you act because of the way you felt? What would have been a more helpful response?

Answering these questions will help parents understand the emotions of their children and where they are stemming from. The best time to ask these questions is shortly after the event when the child has calmed down and ready to reason with you. Doing this consistently for a while will surely help both the child and the parents to gain an upper hand over their emotions and reactions. 

Like what you are reading? Share this article with other parents and leave a comment below. 

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About the Author


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Mekhala Joshi

“Me-kha-la!” That happens at least once when she introduces herself to new people. She’s the only ‘Mekhala’ she knows, and she takes a bit of pride in that. She is a quintessential introvert. Mekhala loves tea but cannot make a good cup of tea and often ends up having coffee. She claims that she takes all adjectives as complements unless specified otherwise. Mekhala is an organizational psychologist and psychometrician. She was a class teacher of 36 adorable girls for two years, grade 2 & 3, as a part of Teach For India Fellowship. And has worked as an independent consultant for a couple of years.

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