Why is it important to teach children to label their feelings?
Happy and sad tend to be the primary feeling labels that are taught to children. This encourages a black and white type of thinking, good and bad, right and wrong. Assisting our children in understanding the full spectrum of human feelings is vital in ensuring that they grow into emotionally astute young adults. With this early understanding it’s far more likely that children’s emotional awareness will continue to develop into their adulthood.
Helping children put their feelings into words can support them in navigating strong, emotional experiences. Once our children have mastered the labelling basics, we can move on to a bigger variety of emotionally expressive words. We can increase our child’s understanding of emotions through playing a labelling game and adding its name to the “feelings file”. It’s important to assure your child that all emotions are natural and welcome to ensure that they don’t feel shame in expressing anger, frustration and sadness.
To start the game, you could ask your child where they feel the emotion and what does it look like? They could give it a name and a colour. Helping to bring the feeling to life will allow your child to accept and release it with ease. Scientists have discovered that labelling emotions reduced the response of the amygdala and other limbic regions (known as the emotional seat of the brain) to negative emotional images.
Here’s what it means to us:
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