“Terrible Twos. Threenagers. Fearsome Fours.” Those last two were new terms to me, but they do accurately describe how young children behave as they learn to regulate their own emotions.
MindShift shared five strategies for helping children understand and discuss their emotions, including “normalizing emotions”.
Emotions should not be classified as good or bad. Even so, strong emotions can scare or overwhelm kids, so normalizing their response to stimuli – helping them see that everyone feels mad, sad, or scared sometimes – can comfort them and build their perspective-taking skills.
After the child has calmed down, circle back and briefly summarize what happened, including how the child felt. Then, remind them that everyone – including you – feels this way sometimes. For example, “When grandma left this morning, you felt very sad. You kicked and cried. You wanted grandma to stay and play with you. Everyone feels sad sometimes. I felt sad when grandma left, too. I like talking with her and watching her read books to you. It’s sad when people say goodbye. Do you want call her tomorrow to say hello or draw her a picture?”
Head over to the MindShift web page to read more about helping preschoolers understand and discuss their emotions.