Emotions are a very powerful thing—whether at age three or 30! It’s good to get a handle on emotions early on, so your children can manage and learn skills that they can use when the situation calls for it.
If your preschooler is struggling with managing stress and the accompanying emotional turmoil, these simple steps might help. As a hands-on mom, you can be their ultimate model who will nourish the best practices for socio-emotional learning in the home.
The Magic of validation
Before understanding emotions, it’s important to first feel and own them. There’s no such thing as a bad emotion—only ones that may make you feel unpleasant, such as being upset, angry, irritated, or disappointed. Often, society has taught children to ignore these feelings in the hopes that focusing on the pleasant will usher in happiness.
As parents whose purpose is to help their kids become their best selves and reach their best possible, it’s important to give them a safe space to feel their emotions. When they feel that it’s safe to let out these feelings, they become more open to understanding them.
A safe space ensures that the child’s feelings will not be frowned upon or dismissed. Any feeling, whether they are pleasant or unpleasant, is an emotion that they will come to feel at any time.
Start by asking the “how” and “why” of an emotion. How does the emotion manifest in themselves? Why are they crying? What is making them feel this way? Sharing rather than suppressing these feelings helps children explore them and transform them into positive learning blocks.
It’s never too early to learn about reflection
Reflecting and being aware of one’s issues seem like a very adult activity to do. Mommies, remember that these allow your children to become more in touch with their emotions.
A reflecting activity can be as simple as a catch-up after school. Asking them about their day can bring their attention to their interactions and the emotions that occurred at the time. They may bring up stories about more negative events such as getting into a fight with a classmate. When this happens, the sharing time can be transformed into a learning time not by immediate punishment, but a dissecting of what happened.
Try ending on a positive note, whether it is in exploring other options to prevent the negative actions in the future, or emphasizing the learning points that they can take away from it.
Focus on the “do’s” instead of the “don’ts”
Part of teaching your children about socio-emotional skills is highlighting the actions and attitudes they have in their relationships. Focusing on the “do’s” instead of the “don’ts” allows them to know the specific action to do next time.
Don’t-activities restrict your children without allowing them the option to know what to do next. When you give them the do-activities, children understand the purpose for what needs to be done. Taking the time to explain the reasons for specific rules can also help them understand the restrictions. This way, they can manage any unpleasant emotions they may feel about them.
Seek help from the community
While teaching socio-emotional skills can start at home, it does not mean it should stay here. Your community and social support can be great sources of help when your child tries to manage their emotions in a bigger setting.
More preschools are heeding researches on the importance of socio-emotional learning. These institutions can provide a good foundation for your child’s development. At the same time, they will be exposed to peers who also practice the same socio-emotional techniques, so they can also apply it in their everyday learning.
Emotions can become overwhelming at times, and it’s the role of the parents to provide their children with the first small steps towards healthy emotional management. By nourishing their every possible, they will grow up to become well-rounded individuals with healthy emotional management capabilities in the future.