It’s healthy for children to put feelings into words. Talking about their feelings helps them feel connected to people who care about them. It helps them feel better.
They can tell why they feel that way, if they know.
They can tell how their body feels, if they can feel a sensation inside.
Research shows that verbalizing feelings makes sadness, anger and pain less intense.
The amygdala in the brain activates when threatened. Labeling the emotion lessens the degree to which the amygdala is activated and helps overcome negative feelings. It puts the brakes on one’s emotional responses.
In Mission:CONTROL! Joseph shares with his mom that he felt angry because he felt she was bossing him around; but when she shared her calm with him, he felt better, calmer inside his body.
Examples of ways you can help your child label feelings:
“You look like you are mad because you’re frowning and stomping your feet.”
“Your friend looks like his feelings are hurt. Are you wondering what he’s upset about?”
Were you feeling embarrassed? I noticed your head was down and your cheeks were red and hot.
Steps to take
Small step to take: Write a few examples of what you could say to yourself when upset. (Include feelings and labels for those feelings and notice how that feels.)
Advanced step to take: Write a few examples of what you could say when your child is upset. (Include feelings and labels for those feelings.)