Welcome to the Young Children & Emotions series. This series of posts will be focused on ways we can support children under age five in learning about and coping with their emotions. As you may know, I’ve written about children and emotions in a general sense in many past posts, but this series will be a little different than my other posts. This series will focus very specifically on children under age five. In addition, each post in this series will focus on a specific emotion that I am frequently asked about.
I’ve had lots of experience talking with children in this age group and their families in the community and in my therapy office. I’ve also had the pleasure of supporting my own children through their own intense emotions. I currently have one child under five at home and my other child is barely on the other side of fivel
The series already contains posts addressing fear, frustration and sadness. I plan to write about anxiety and over excitement soon. I am going to add other topics to my list as I work through the series, so feel free to let me know if there are additional emotions you’d like to see me address.
Young Children & Emotions: Some General Considerations
Before we delve into the posts focused on specific emotions, I wanted to share some general thoughts that apply to all emotions that are experienced by a young child. I don’t know that any of this information is going to be surprising to you, but I think that it is always important to remember where a child is at developmentally as we consider how to approach them.
- Young children tend to experience emotions very intensely.
- As much as possible, we need to monitor our own emotions as it is very easy to be triggered by the intensity of a young child’s emotions. Our children need us to stay as present and calm as possible to help them process what they are experiencing.
- Young children are still learning about their emotions and may have difficulty expressing what they are feeling. It can be helpful to start working with children on building their feelings vocabulary at a young age. It is also helpful to be open to thinking about ways that children may express their emotions other than through verbal means.
- Children can find their emotions to be confusing and overwhelming.
- It is our role as adults, to help our children learn how to identify, share and cope with their emotions in healthy ways. It is important to consider what strategies may be most age-appropriate and effective for your child.
- As adults, we want to be careful about how we speak to children about their emotions. Children at this age are very concrete and often do not distinguish between a certain behavior being unacceptable and the child being a “bad” person. It is also difficult for the child to understand that perhaps their behavior was unacceptable, but the associated emotion was normal and healthy.
This series already includes posts the following posts, which you may like to check out for some more detailed and specific information:
Check back soon for more posts. Feel free to leave me a comment with your thoughts so far.