How many of us know someone that's exceptionally brilliant but unpleasant to be around due to their intense outbursts, or mood swings?
Our children today are under immense pressure to succeed at all costs. An important questions, we as parents must ask ourselves, is what does success look like for my child? Is it getting top grades, a spot at one of the best universities, being a prodigy pianist or… is it being happy, having friends, feeling fulfilled?
A huge component of social & emotional success is knowing how to manage & regulate our response to stress. For young children, their emotions can be hugely overwhelming. One of the reasons for this is that they lack the language or vocabulary to understand what they’re experiencing.
Emotion labelling is an extension of the simple concept that when we talk about feelings, we feel better. Although this idea has been used in talk therapy for over a century, formal research into it is much more recent. Researchers have established when we label our emotions, we experience a decrease in emotion intensity as well as reduced activity in the amygdala (the brain’s emotion centre).
Teaching our children how to better explore & understand their emotions through labelling & reflective thinking can be hugely beneficial. One way we can do this is by talking about how we’re feeling or how other people in our lives might be experiencing things. This is easy to do when reading story books, take time to pause & discuss with your child what the characters might be thinking & feeling.
Another strategy is to use Emotion Cards. These are flashcards that show a character or face displaying various emotions. These are not to be used as a test or form of assessment, but instead as a jumping off point from which you & your child can discuss feelings, emotions & things we can do when we’re feeling overwhelmed.
References: Hariri et al. (2000); Lieberman et al., 2007
I’ve put together some Emotion Cards, along with an explanation of the neuroscience behind why emotion labelling works here: https://www.scienceminded.org/product-page/emotion-cards
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