Developing Emotional Literacy in Children
The Covid Pandemic is taking a toll on the emotional and mental health of all of us - including our children. It is important for caregivers to model good coping skills to the children in our lives as well as equiping them with age-appropriate tools to help them cope with the many emotions they may be experiencing. An emotional vocabulary is the collection of words your child uses to express their feelings and reactions to events. Children without a solid emotional vocabulary may act out in negative ways.
Here are some activities you can do with your child to help them develop Emotional Literacy:
Make a Big List of Feelings: Grab a really big piece of paper and a marker and sit down with your child to brainstorm all the feelings you can think of. Your list may include emotions your child doesn’t recognize, but that’s okay. Make the face that goes with the feeling and explain a situation in which that feeling may come up.
Add feeling noises to your Big List of Feelings: Children don’t always know how to identify an emotion by word, but they may know the sounds that accompany them. For example, your child may not know the word "worried," but they may know that "uh-oh" or the sound of air sucked in through your teeth goes with that same feeling. Try to stump your child by providing a sound that can be paired with a number of emotions, like a sigh that is associated with fatigued, sad, frustrated and irritated
Read books: Literacy and emotional literacy don’t have to be taught separately. There are many great books that specifically explore emotions, but you can find feelings in any story you read. When you’re reading to your child, ask them to help you figure out what the main character is feeling in certain situations. Use the pictures and the plot as clues to help.
Play Emotional Charades: This is a fun game to play with your child. One of you picks an emotion to convey to the other, using either your whole body or just your face. If your child is having trouble making sense of the faces, give them a mirror, ask them to make the same face as you and look in the mirror. They may be able to see the feeling on their face better than on yours.
Change up the "Happy and You Know It Song": Add new verses to this familiar song, using new emotions. For example, try "If you’re agreeable, and you know it say 'okay.'"
Make a Feelings Collage: Give your child some paper, scissors, glue, and old magazines. You can either provide a list of feelings that they need to find faces to match or have them make a collage of faces and tell you what the emotions are. When they're done, label the emotions and hang the collage somewhere where it can be easily accessed.
Keep a Feelings Journal: A feelings journal is a good way for your child to keep track of their emotions and the situations in which they feel them.
Role-play and review: One of the best ways to increase emotional vocabulary is to role-play or to create social narratives. Come up with scenarios your child might encounter and have them act out how they might act and react. Alongside role-playing comes reviewing. Go over situations that didn’t end well, examine the emotions of the people involved, and talk with your child about what could have been done differently.
New Horizons Behavioral Health SKY Clubhouse is currently taking limited enrollment for the Summer Session. The SKY (Saving our Kids & Youth) Child and Adolsecent Clubhouse is a mental health resiliency support clubhouse. SKY provides a unique set of comprehensive services for children and their families coping with the challenges of a mental health disorder. We welcome children between the ages of 6 -11 years of age. Contact Elizabeth Mercer, Program Manager to enroll. Call 706 221-2024 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.