How can parents/carers support their child in developing their Emotional Literacy?
- Accept your child’s emotions and their emotional responses - Don’t immediately judge, criticise or negate how your child is feeling. Name the emotion for them and say things like: ‘Oh, that sounds really frustrating,’ or, ‘How lovely, I can tell how excited you are.’
- Label their emotions with them - Doing so helps children feel understood. For example, say, ‘You sound upset,’ or, ‘You look worried.’
- Encourage your child to talk about their feelings - Create an environment where it’s safe to talk openly about feelings and emotions free from judgement, criticism or finger-pointing. Say things like: ‘You sound really fed up. Shall we have a chat?’ and, ‘How did that make you feel?’
- Help them to recognise the signs about how others may be feeling - In stories, books or TV programmes, ask open-ended questions to help your child step into the shoes of a character or person. Say, ‘How do you think that made him feel?’ or, ‘How would you feel if that happened to you?’
- Teach them how to calm down and press their imaginary ‘pause button’ - Encourage them to take three deep breaths and say a simple mantra of, ‘I can feel calm inside.’ After that, encourage them to go and do something they find calming and relaxing.
- Teach children alternative ways of expressing their frustrations - Ask your child an open-ended, empowering question to help them feel that they have choices. For example, say, ‘How could you explain how you feel using your words rather than hitting?’ or ‘Can you think of a different way to let him know how angry you are?’
- Recognise what motivates them to perform at their best - Encourage your child rather than praise them: focus on celebrating the behaviour and effort, not just the result. Say things like, ‘I’ve noticed that when things get difficult you just keep trying – that’s fantastic’.
- Model how to remain calm and in control when you are tired, angry or fed up - Say, ‘I’ve had a tough day at work – can we talk about this later when I’ve had a chance to relax?’