Emotions can be rough to deal with as adults, but they are even harder for children. They have to learn to understand what they feel, and those feelings can quickly become too big and too confusing.
Let’s talk about ways we can help children process emotions, and don’t miss the Scripture Memory Cards on Emotions at the end of the post.
Both positive and negative emotions can present challenges to children. Everything they are feeling seems vitally important. Adults may realize that a feeling will pass, but for a child, they think they will feel this way forever. And to them, even a few hours can feel like forever.
How can we help them through what they are feeling? Let’s look at three areas:
- identify emotions
- express emotions
- respond to emotions in a healthy way
Just like children need to learn the vocabulary of daily life, they need to understand to connect what they are feeling to certain words they can use to express themselves.
- Do they want to cry? Are they sad or in pain?
- Do they want to laugh? Are they happy?
- Do they want to jump up and down? Are they excited or nervous?
- Does their stomach hurt? Are they scared or worried about something?
Stopping for a few minutes and identifying what your child is feeling is an important step in helping them deal with it. This FREE My Feelings and Emotions Tracker is a great tool to help you do that.
Plus, check out these FREE feelings and emotions printables.
Just like children need help identifying and putting a name to how they feel, they also need your help understanding how to express and deal with their emotions. Is a sibling making them so angry they want to hit something?
Help them understand that hitting a sibling is never an option, but they can go tackle a hard project in the yard. That will separate them from their sibling and give them a physical way to work off some energy and frustration.
Are they so happy that they want to bounce through the entire house–for hours on end? Maybe they could get all their stuffed animals together and put on a play where all the animals take turns talking about what makes them happy. This way, they get to express their happiness and do something creative.
Sometimes, kids express emotions that don’t seem to make sense to us as adults. Something minor can trigger a huge, overblown response. There are many causes for this, but here are some helpful thoughts on sensory processing disorders.
There are other ways we can help kids understand and process their emotions, including validating their feelings, providing a safe space for them, and more.
Respond to Emotions in a Healthy Way
Children need to learn ways they can respond that make the situation better and not worse. One powerful way to help kids through emotions is helping them find ways to help others.
If your child is sensitive and learns about a situation where a person (or an entire group of people) are hurting or in need, it may be overwhelming to them.
Show them ways they can help. Maybe they can make a card, sell some things at a yard sale and donate the money, make a bookmark or other craft they can use to remind them to pray for the person or situation, or any number of things. If they feel a burden for someone or for a situation, make sure to find a way they can help so they don’t feel overwhelmed by it.
Maybe they need to learn to take a break or a deep breath when they feel a certain way. Maybe they need a hug or to talk. Maybe they need to listen to some music or read a book. Help your child find coping strategies to deal with what they are feeling.
The best thing we can help our children learn about dealing with their emotions is that they can talk to us and to God about ANYTHING. There is never a need to hide what they are feeling from God. He already knows, and He loves them completely.
I remember an extremely painful time in my life when I was faced with more emotions than I knew how to deal with (and I wasn’t a young child at the time).
A friend who had been through a very similar situation hugged me and whispered, “Whatever you’re feeling, it’s OK.” She wasn’t saying that acting on whatever I felt at the moment was OK.
She was telling me to let myself feel it and acknowledge it. Then I could move forward. As someone who was always worried about how they were “supposed” to feel or act, her encouragement was a lifeline for me.
You can also help children find Bible verses that talk about what they are feeling. We have a set of Free Scripture Memory Cards on Emotions for you that you can print and use with your family. You will need a password to get this download as it is currently restricted to subscribers.
You can download it below. There are four sections to it, so be sure to only print the pages you need. You’ll find:
- two colored versions (boy and girl)
- two black and white versions (boy and girl)
These cards include Scripture verses for when your children are feeling:
Bonnie Rose Hudson’s heart’s desire is for every child to feel the love of God and know how special they are to Him. She would love for you to stop by her website WriteBonnieRose.com for homeschool and history curriculum, resources to help teach your children about missions and the persecuted Church, free history and writing printables, and to check out her newest release from JourneyForth, The Hidden Village, an early reader set in India.
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