When do we teach our children about the wide range of emotions that there are? Do we give them the tools to be able to effectively able to express themselves? We are often tempted to do this in the middle of an upset ‘I see you are feeling angry’ but this isn’t always the best time. Naming emotions at this point can lead to more upset if you get it wrong, or stop an upset that they are not finished with yet. Also, things like anger often mask other emotions such as embarrassment or fear.
When children are feeling calm they are more able to reflect on emotions. You can then add the emotional vocabulary ‘I could see that you were so frustrated, it is hard when you feel like that’ or ‘I could see how disappointed you were but I thought you managed really well with that feeling’. This gives children the chance to think about how they were feeling and the name it has. It moves us away from Mad and Sad. But don’t forget to name the good ones too! Pride, love and even to feel content! It is healthy for children to share their emotions and for us to listen to them. (It also helps if someone is then there to listen to ours!)