When my daughter was in kindergarten they had a series of special lessons on feelings. At the end of these lessons she brought home a chart that had her picture on a craft stick and a bunch of faces with different expressions around it. She could put her face on the stick behind any of the faces to show how she was feeling.
I had a chance later that week to talk to the specialist that taught those classes. She told me that being able to identify our feelings from the time we are small really helps kids develop more empathy and emotional control. We put the chart up on our fridge and my daughter used the chart occasionally to tell me how she felt. She moved her face from one emotion to another, kind of like she was trying them on. And as she tried on these emotions she got better at recognizing how she felt.
One day this article on the Five Steps of Emotion Coaching was recommended to me. As I read through the 5 steps I realized that the WeFeel app can help parents become emotional coaches for their kids, especially with the first 4 steps.
1. Be aware of emotions.
When the app asks you, or your child, how you feel throughout the day it gives you the opportunity to stop and take a moment to reflect on what you are feeling.
2. Connect with your child.
As your child adds entries you’ll be able to see what they are feeling in easy to understand charts that you can share with them. The charts give you a way to start a conversation.
3. Listen to your child.
Taking the time to track your own emotions and encouraging your child to track theirs shows them that it is important to you and gives you a way to listen to them even if they don’t have the words to share them with you.
4. Name emotions.
Not every child has a way to put words to what they are feeling, but that doesn’t mean they can’t identify them. Simple graphics combined with intensity allow anyone to identify their feelings even without a name to give it. And, all of the graphics are supported with the various synonyms that describe the emotions represented so that you can help your child (or yourself) begin to give your emotions names.
If you are interested in learning more about being an emotional coach for your child, I encourage you to read the article. Even though the article is recommended for 3 to 5 years old I have found it’s advice helpful for my older children as well.