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Parenting Tip: Emotions

Emotional Literacy has so many benefits. When children understand their own emotions, and are taught skills for managing them, they can calm down more quickly. When they understand other people’s emotions, it helps them to build relationships and manage conflicts. We can build emotional literacy by: 

  • labeling our child’s feelings and our own, helping to build their vocabulary
  • modeling healthy ways to manage emotions - “I was feeling angry, so I took a few deep breaths” or “you’re looking worried - would you like to ask me for help?"
  • validating feelings, but still setting appropriate limits on behavior - "You're really mad right now - I understand that. It's important not to hit, though, even when we're angry."
  • when reading books, watching videos, or doing pretend play, talk about how characters might be feeling and why, and about how those feelings are expressed and handled

Learn more:

Children’s Activities

Infants - Label Their Feelings. When your child is experiencing emotions, talk about it - give them a word to describe how they are feeling. I start with the First Four Feelings - glad, mad, sad, and scared.

Toddlers - Sing new verses to “If you’re happy and you know it”, and act them out. "If you’re mad and you know it, stomp your feet. … sad… you can cry.... scared… say 'eek!'” Read: When I Am / Cuando Estoy by Rosa-Mendoza or When You’re Mad and You Know It by Crary.

Preschoolers - Act It Out. Name a feeling (like mad, sad, scared.) Ask your child to show you what someone may look like or what they may do if they’re having that feeling. Have fun acting that out with them, roaring and waling! Then talk about appropriate ways to express that feeling and how to calm down - act that out too. Read The Color Monster by Llenas or The Feelings Book by Parr.

Elementary - Learn about the Zones of Regulation. ( Explain that when feelings are little, they’re easy to manage, but when we’re having great big feelings we may lose control and need help calming down. Learning to recognize and respond to the feelings when they’re small helps us stay calm. Read Today I Feel Silly by Curtis or I Can Handle It by Wright.
Resource: the Library

We’ll recommend lots of books in this weekly newsletter. You can borrow them all for free from the King County Library! If you’re not familiar with how to use the library, you can learn all about it at: Note: you can also find on YouTube videos of many children’s books being read aloud.

Toddler Classes

In our parent-toddler classes, our children's teachers incorporate emotional literacy into their lessons, and our parent educators will talk about ways to support your child's emotional development. And you will find a community of caring parents that will help to support you through all the joys and challenges of life with a toddler. Sign up for fall classes now at:

Please forward this email on to friends and family members who take care of young children! 
Copyright © 2021 Bellevue College Parent Education, All rights reserved.

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