I often have friends calling to ask me for advice; it is a part of the territory as a Behavior Analyst/Professor/Mama. My friend recently came to me because she is becoming more concerned about her 4-year-old’s ability to regulate his emotions. Most of my clinical experience was focusing on observable behaviors outside of the body. When we start focusing on behaviors that are internal, I thought it would be beneficial to consult with my friend who is a nationally recognized School Counselor. Plus, it is always beneficial to discuss alternative theoretical frameworks to gain a different perspective!
Now, let’s be honest, even as adults we joke that we sometimes are in a glass case of emotion and struggle to manage our own feelings (Isn’t that why wine was created?). But we also need to remember that even our tiny humans sometimes struggle to express themselves and we need to provide them the tools and language to encourage them to talk about their emotions in a healthy way.
Psychology Today identifies emotional intelligence as “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others”. It is generally said to include three skills:
- Being aware of emotions
- the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving
- the ability to manage emotion: including regulating your own emotions and cheering up or calming down other people.
When we teach our children emotional intelligence, we are providing them the skills to recognize their feelings and understand how they feel. When they can identify these emotions, it will allow them better coping skills. Okay… But, where do we start?
My Counselor friend provided many great book titles and resources that could be great communication starters for discussing emotions with your little ones.
- The Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss (ages 3-8)
- “The Way I Feel” book series by Cornelia Maude Spelman (Preschool- Grade 2)
- Glad Monster, Sad Monster: A Book About Feelings by Ed Emberly & Anne Miranda (ages 3-8)
- The Way I Feel by Janan Cain (ages 4-8)
- Feelings Book by Todd Parr (preschool- Grade 2)
- The Color Monster: A Pop-Up Book of Feelings by Anna Llenas (PreK- K)
- “Worry Woo Monsters” book series by Andi Green (K-10)
Another great suggestion is to buy the Carson Dellosa Kid-Drawn Emotion Bulletin Board Set. The objective here is that you would review the cards together. Once again, a great way to begin conversation on different emotions and feelings. To take this a step further, encourage your child to draw what they are feeling. If they are feeling happy, ask your little cutie to draw what it means for them to feel happy! If they are sad, draw what it means for them to feel sad. This will help them continue to think about emotions in a more abstract way!
And I mean, if all of these resources could encourage conversation starters with some significant others too, it couldn’t hurt right?!?! Haha, Just kidding guys :).