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Children's Emotions and Feelings

In any given one-hour span, your child may display more emotions than you can count. She may be happy, sad, angry, defiant, helpful, and more. Helping your preschooler or kindergartner understand what she's feeling may be as simple as helping her identify the emotions that go along with those feelings.

Talking about Feelings

Kids react in emotional ways without always knowing what they are reacting to, or what their reaction means. Talking to your child about her feelings is important. Validating those feeling is important, too. If your child seems angry, ask her why. Ask her what made her angry and if anger is appropriate for the situation. Let her know that you understand that she is angry, but that you want to talk about it, too. If your child seems sad, ask her why. Validate her emotions by telling her it's ok to be sad and that everyone is sad at times. Talk to her about what made her sad and what she can do to feel better.

Identifying Feelings

Kids learn empathy by learning to identify with someone else's feelings. When you read a book, see a picture, or watch television and see someone who is angry, sad, happy, or who displays some other emotion, take the time to talk to your child about it. Ask your child what emotion she believes the person is showing. Ask her why she thinks the person is showing that emotion. Ask her what would make her feel the same way. Helping kids learn to identify their own feelings and the feelings of other people, helps them understand that their emotions and feelings aren't the only ones that count. Another great way to help your child identify feelings is a feelings chart. On this chart you can have your child circle feelings that have each day and discuss them.

Using Words to Describe Feelings

When kids are angry, sad, or happy, they don't always know the right words to describe those feelings. The lack of words can make those feelings seem compounded. Giving your child the vocabulary she needs to communicate how she's feeling is important. As adults, we understand that there can be varying levels of sad. We know how to express that we are disappointed or confused; kids don't. It's up to us to give them the words they need to help us understand how to help them through a tough time.