OFW Book Club: Teaching Kids About Emotions
Learning how to count or write are two basic lessons we often think of when we consider what parents start teaching their kids from a very young age. Sometimes, it's easy to overlook the fact that learning about emotions is just as crucial for a developing mind.
Feelings are something that we all have, but not every emotion is one that we're born knowing how to interpret. Many children are born with an innate ability to express certain feelings such as giggling to show excitement or crying to communicate frustration or pain.
As they grow into toddlers and older children, they experience more complex emotions that they might not fully understand how to articulate.
For instance, a four-year-old may have begun showing a full range of emotion when they were as young as three, but an eight-year-old may have a more extensive vocabulary and regularly express their feelings in their words.
Attaining that vocabulary to express what they are feeling is a large part of what parents can teach their kids about emotions. Just like counting and writing, being able to put words to their feelings is an important skill that your children will use throughout their lives.
Using Books as a Teaching Tool About Emotions
As a parent, you have an enormous influence on how your children grow to understand different feelings. Much will be learned through observation and in the ways you react to the feelings they express to you, but you'll also find it worthwhile to take the time to talk through certain emotions from time to time.
That said, explaining certain feelings—particularly more complex emotions—in ways that a child will understand isn't always easy. That's where teaching tools, like books, can be a great help.
Books are an excellent tool to help your children understand and even visualize feelings in a way that makes sense to their developing minds.
Stories paired with images that visually portray emotions can have a significant impact on a child's understanding of more complex feelings like anxiety or frustration.
Bumba Books® — Feelings Matter
This charming book series explores four basic emotions: anger, happiness, sadness, and fear. Each book takes one of these emotions and focuses in on what might create these feelings, why each of these feelings are entirely normal, and why they matter.
These books are a great teaching tool for children in preschool through early elementary. Here's a bit of information about each book in this series.
Young kids are often prone to getting scared easily, whether it be from a shadow they saw in their room or from having a bad dream. Yet they might not always know what feeling afraid means or how to deal with this emotion.
This book helps young kids attain a better understanding of fear and how to talk about it.
Sadness is a normal emotion for kids and adults alike. For youngsters, it's essential to learn how to acknowledge this emotion as being valid and build healthy strategies for how to face it.
Happiness is a beautiful feeling to experience. For children, even as they are experiencing this emotion, they might not be able to interpret why it is wholly valuable to acknowledge their happiness.
Anger is a complicated emotion, but how we each deal with it is entirely up to each of us as individuals. For kids, developing skills to handle anger appropriately is crucial to their development.
In Niko Draws a Feeling, a young boy loves to draw but feels like no one understands his art until he meets someone who does.
This story touches on the complex emotions that often come with being misunderstood and how wonderful it can be to find someone with whom you can share something special. It's a perfect fit for elementary schoolers.
Today I Feel Silly: And Other Moods That Make My Day follows a young girl through the different emotions that she may feel on different days.
It helps children understand how one's emotions are ever changing, that it's okay not always to feel one way. This book is great for kids in the early stages of elementary school.
Helping your child learn how to cope with and express their emotions will likely require ongoing lessons throughout their childhood. Sticking to it by emulating healthy ways to deal with emotions in your home as well as using teaching tools like books can support your child's education on emotional awareness, giving them the skills they need to manage their emotions in a healthy way through adulthood.
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