Get a poster, or draw one with your child, of faces with different emotions. Ask your child to identify one of the emotions on the poster and when she last felt this way and why. Ask her how she’s feeling now and why she feels that way. This will increase her vocabulary while also helping her more accurately identify her emotions.
Take opportunities everyday to help your child identify the feelings of others. How does his face look when he feels that way? Pointing out emotions in others is a good way to help your child begin to understand those feelings in herself. Teacher Clare Morrison suggests also asking, “Show me what happy looks like for you,” and, “What does sad look like to you?” By making a facial expression, your child is better-able to connect the emotion to her own body language.
Many young children like to look at family photos. Take the opportunity to talk about emotions that family members are feeling. For example, wedding photos will be filled with happy people. Point out their smiles and their expressions. This could be a good opportunity to point out that someone who is crying isn’t always sad. In some cases it can mean someone is very happy.
For example, if she seems angry or frustrated, teacher Clare Morrison suggests saying, “I noticed your eyebrows are closer together and your arms are folded. Tell me how you’re feeling right now.” By prompting your child to talk about her feelings as she’s having them, you can help her identify her feelings. Try not to label her emotion for her by saying, “You look mad” or “You look sad.” Instead, let her give a name for the way she is feeling as she begins to connect her body language to an emotion.
When a child shows interest in an activity or topic, it is often because she has a strength related to it. One of the best ways to help your child understand and value her strengths is to encourage her ideas and interests. You can begin to do this by asking her what she likes or noting a topic she talks a great deal about. Nurture her interest by finding related activities. For example, you can both take part in volunteering at an animal shelter if she’s interested in cats. Whatever the activity may be, by encouraging your child’s interests, you are helping to define and enhance her strengths and build her confidence.