This post is part of a series focusing on helping children be more confident. You can download a copy of our full guide here.
When you’re young, everything can feel like the biggest deal ever. From being told you’re not allowed more ice cream to navigate the social pains of high school and adolescence, the whole range of emotions is enormous. We as parents can quickly forget just how ‘loud’ emotions are when you’re young and still finding your way in the world – and we did it without social media involved!
Giving children the space to feel their emotions without judgement is hugely important, it enables them to name how they’re feeling, and teaches them that there is no such thing as a ‘bad’ emotion. The joy they feel when playing with friends is just as valid as the anger that arises when someone mistreats them. Acknowledging that emotions like anger can be damaging is part of the process; helping children accept it and address it in a healthy way builds their resilience in life as they deal with inevitable injustices.
Taking the time to help children understand and feel the whole spectrum of emotions goes a long way to building their sense of self and the more they know about their own emotions, the more confident they become in dealing with them and navigating sometimes fraught situations.
It’s not always easy to respond with calmness and empathy when your child is having an intense emotional response to something – and that’s ok. Acknowledging yourself that you’re finding something difficult is incredibly powerful – it models healthy behaviours and thinking patterns. Younger children especially look to us as adults to teach them and it’s not just about reading and writing, it’s arguably more important to help their emotional intelligence.
Encouraging your child to make statements about how they are feeling is a simple way to start a conversation about emotions, for example, “I feel frustrated because I’m not allowed to spend more time on my games console”. Listening to what they say can help you to see the bigger picture and perhaps see what led to the outburst in the first place – for example, they were almost at the end of a difficult level in their game when they were instructed that their gaming time was up. It’s understandable that scenario might cause frustration and giving them the space to express it honestly is healthy, even if you disagree with them.
Try being more open about acknowledging your own feelings, even when you think it’s a ‘negative’ emotion. If something annoys you, label it! Use the “I feel ___ because___” statement as above. Seeing you label your own emotions sets the best example for your child.
The bottom line: Confident children are comfortable acknowledging and labelling their emotions. Understanding what they are feeling and why is often the biggest battle.
Want to read more? You can download a copy of our confidence guide here https://theatretrain.co.uk/top-five-confidence-tips/