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Helping others navigate this journey of Life!
A weekly blog from the Family & Consumer Sciences Department
by Ashley Foster - January 24, 2018
Kids are born with emotional reactions such as crying, frustration, hunger, and pain.
They learn about other emotions as they grow older. How we react to our kids’ emotions has an impact on the
development of their emotional intelligence. Emotional invalidation prevents kids
from learning how to manage their emotions. When we teach kids to identify their emotions,
we give them a framework that helps explain how they feel, which makes it easier for
them to deal with those emotions in a socially appropriate way.
Infants are essentially guided by emotions pre-wired into their brains. For instance,
cries are usually an attempt to avoid unpleasant stimuli or to move towards pleasant
stimuli (food, touch, hugs).One study suggests that listening to play songs have a
positive effect on emotions more than speech. It also suggests that play songs (The
Wheels on the Bus" for instance) are more effective than lullabies at reducing stress.
A number of studies suggest that fear is the most difficult emotion for toddlers.Helping
toddlers avoid distressing situations or distracting them from those situations is
one of the most effective emotion-regulation strategies.Naming emotions also helps
toddlers learn that emotions are normal. Every day opportunities provide occasions
to talk to kids about emotions: “He sure looks angry.” “Why do you think he looks
so sad?” Toddlers also learn about managing their emotions by watching us.
Children are able to understand and differentiate appropriate from inappropriate emotional
expressions, but they still find it hard to express their emotions, especially if
they haven’t learned to identify them. Helping kids manage their emotions begins by
validating those emotions and providing an environment in which they feel safe to
express them. As several studies have shown, kids who feel safe are more likely to
develop and use appropriate emotion regulation skills to deal with difficult feelings.