Ways to Teach Your Child About Feelings


Children experience various emotions right from a young age.

They tend to experience simple emotions like anger, happiness, or frustration and often act out by laughing, crying, or throwing tantrums.

However, as they grow older, they are exposed to more complicated emotions that can affect their choices, behavioral patterns, and mental well-being if not appropriately handled.

Thus as a parent, it's up to you to teach your child about feelings to enable them to express themself in the healthiest way possible.

A prerequisite for helping your child understand the concept of feelings is teaching your child their names.

Children can only voice out what they feel and learn to cope when they can recognize what they think.

To help your child build their feelings vocabulary, you can start with basic feelings words like happy and sad before moving up to more complicated feelings like anxious and disappointed.

Also, you can teach your child coping skills to manage intense feelings.

It is inevitable for your child to be in uncomfortable situations, whether at home or school or even when they grow older: it would help to teach them healthy coping skills to manage their feelings in these situations.

Similarly, one of the most effective ways to shape your child's behavior, communication skills, coping skills, and feelings management is to practice them for your child to see.

Children learn primarily from parents, and as a parent, you can support your child and train them to be responsible adults by being a good role model.

Consider this overview to learn practical ways to teach your child about feelings:

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Margot Bean, LCSW

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Naomi Kettner, LPC, NCC

Naomi Kettner, LPC, NCC

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Cassondra Chagnon, LPCC

Cassondra Chagnon, LPCC

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Jenifer Seas, LCSW

Jenifer Seas, LCSW

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(719) 452-4374
Melissa Peterson, LPC

Melissa Peterson, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424

Label the Feelings 

Teaching your child the right vocabulary to articulate their feelings will help them vocalize, process them better, and understand how others feel.

Children experience a wide range of emotions from a young age, including anger, fear, excitement, and happiness, and they might find it difficult to express themselves without the right words.

Thus, a great way to teach your child about feelings is to help them name what they feel.

You can start by helping your child name their own feelings.

For instance, if your child is giddy, you can say, "you're so excited today," or when your child is moody, you can ask them if they feel sad.

Helping your child name their feelings will build their feelings vocabulary and encourage them to express themself before you even ask.

Also, you can discuss the feelings of characters in the cartoons or tv shows they watch.

When watching shows with your child, pause to identify and discuss the feelings a particular character may be experiencing and the possible reasons behind them.

Similarly, you can help your child name feelings by making faces and asking them what it means.

You can make a sad or happy face and ask your child to point out what you might be feeling.

Not only will you teach your child to name feelings, but you will also help them recognize other people's facial expressions and body language and interact with people better. 

Discuss the Feelings with Them 

An excellent way to teach your child about feelings is to give them the opportunity to share their feelings.

Learning starts from home; thus, as a parent, you want to create a safe space for your child to express themselves and share their feelings with you at home.

This way, you can guide your child appropriately and correct when necessary.

To begin with, you can create a daily routine where you allow your child to share their everyday experiences and feelings.

Children experience various situations daily, whether at home or school.

Have a debriefing session with your child at the end of the day to enable them to discuss how those situations affected their feelings and vice versa.

Also, you can teach your child to respect other people's feelings.

Children tend to be egocentric; however, they must learn at a young age that other people have feelings and emotions too.

To train your child into a responsible adult, teach them to recognize and respect other people's feelings.

Similarly, you can make it a habit to discuss your own feelings.

When you feel sad or upset about something they did, communicate with them on eye level and show them how their actions might have affected your feelings.

Likewise, you can talk about various things that happened to you during the day and how you feel about them. 

Help Them Build Coping Skills

Often children find it difficult to cope with intense emotions and might act out in an unhealthy way.

Thus, as a parent, you must teach your child about feelings and educate them on healthy ways to cope and manage what they feel.

While helping your child recognize how they feel, pair it with teachings on how to deal with their feelings.

When children feel angry, acknowledging their anger might not be enough to stop them from throwing tantrums, being rude, or acting out.

In this case, you can encourage your child to take time out or practice deep breathing exercises when they feel overwhelmed with anger.

Likewise, your child needs to understand that their feelings are not reason enough to hurt other people.

Regardless of how your child feels, they must learn to respect other people's feelings and resolve conflicts peacefully.

Children who lack the necessary coping skills are liable to develop anger management problems, overpleasing attitudes, low self-esteem, behavioral issues, and mental health problem.

Thus, building your child's coping skills and teaching them practical ways to handle uncomfortable feelings is crucial.

Reinforce Good Behavior 

You can reinforce your child's behavior through words of encouragement, positive feedback, and rewards.

Children are naturally motivated to repeat the behavior that earned them praise and rewards.

Thus, you can teach your child about feelings and the proper way to handle them by praising your child when they express emotions in a healthy way.

For instance, you can say, "I liked how you were respectful of your brother's feelings while explaining how he hurt you."

This automatically makes your child feel a sense of pride for handling the situation well and encourages them to continue their respectful behavior.

Similarly, if your child lacks the skills to cope with emotions and tends to react negatively, you can use the reward system to correct their negative behavior.

The reward system is a highly effective strategy to correct a child's behavior as children respond favorably to rewards.

If your child has the habit of screaming when upset, you can encourage them not to do so in exchange for a reward.

The reward can be hugs, praises, smiles, kisses from parents, or a specific toy they like.

By reinforcing your child's good behavior, you encourage them to handle feelings better, make healthy choices, promote healthy behavior, improve your parent-child relationship, and develop healthy life skills. 

Lead By Example 

Children often build their characters through the examples set by their parents.

As a parent, it is essential to note that the way you handle feelings, manage uncomfortable situations, and respond to other people's emotions is a learning experience for your child.

Thus, to teach your child about feelings and how to handle them, set a good example they can follow.

Children can be needy and troublesome, and it is inevitable for parents to get angry or frustrated.

However, during this period of frustration, it is important to manage your emotions and react to your child appropriately.

Calm yourself before reacting and speak in a gentle tone.

This shows your child the proper way to handle intense emotions while remaining respectful and loving.

Similarly, you can point out your emotions to your child.

Whether you're happy, sad, or frustrated, say it aloud.

Doing this will encourage your child to be vocal about their feelings and also teach them that other people have feelings too.

Likewise, your body language, facial expression, tone, and reaction to others in a social setting can influence your child's perception of the proper way to deal with others.

It is essential to be self-aware around your child and have it in mind to always be a good model they can follow. 


Teaching your child about feelings is a continuous process.

As a parent, you'll need to constantly provide your child support as they grow older and find teachable moments to reinforce the proper ways to handle feelings.

Managing and coping with feelings in a healthy way will help your child develop positive behavior and excellent mental well-being.

To teach your child about feelings, lead by example, reinforce good behaviors, discuss feelings, build coping skills and develop their feelings vocabulary.


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July 17th, 2024

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