Children's emotions, all there is to know

Children's emotions, all there is to know
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The little ones try emozioni that need to be interpreted. And helping them recognize them is very important from an early age. In this article we have collected many insights on the role and management of emotions in children.

In this article

  • what are emotions and how do they affect the child's learning,
  • babies and emotions,
  • how to teach children to recognize emotions ?,
  • how to teach emotions through colors,
  • how to teach children to manage emotions
  • how to teach mood management step by step
  • how to stimulate emotional intelligence,
  • the importance of the game to learn emotions
  • activities to explore emotions,
  • that's why you don't have to repress emotions.
Read also: How to help children manage emotions better

What are emotions and how they affect a child's learning

Second Daniela Lucangeli, Professor of Developmental Psychology at the University of Padua and expert in learning psychology, le emotions were mental and physiological states that act and condition people. They are associated with psychophysiological changes for internal stimuli (heartbeat, salivation, redness, etc.) and external (thoughts, noises or other that generate fear or anxiety). Generally, they have been learned or are characteristic of people's disposition. “So they are part of the memory, like the language we speak, like the studies we do at school. Pain, for example, arises to warn us of a risk factor, suffering is instead the memory of pain both on a psychic and cellular level ", said the scholar.

“It may happen that, at some point, instead of functioning as a help circuit, emotions go into dysfunctional short-circuits. That is, they become elements that do not allow us to function well. What we call the emotional short circuit takes place: emotions generate such suffering that one enters a risk and gets stuck. So many of the behavioral and mood disorders arise from emotions that generate strong suffering not well identified by the educational context ", explains the doctor.

«Educators, to help their children, must work on suffering, because the memory of pain must be responded to by changing the attitude that caused it. We must help our children / pupils to remove errors, not to judge them, not to cause them suffering and to find together a better strategy to help them. The right attitude is to recognize in the other the sacredness of her world, so for a child: his personality must be known, modified, not replaced. He must then be bought back the principle of the right to make mistakes, which belongs not only to our children, but also ours ».

According to Prof. Lucangeli, it is also necessary learn to apologize, a way to help release guilt, e promote forward-looking optimism: we have been educated to the idea that it is difficult to change the things that are not right, but, instead, it is not true. To change the emotional attitude, one cannot help but relearn emotions warm (hot), because they are the access keys to the soul, to the living and profound person.

Read also: What are emotions and how they affect children's learning

Babies and emotions

Babies know all too well how to communicate their moods. But are they able to recognize the emotions of adults? To answer this question, a research of theUniversity of Geneva (UNIGE), who analyzed the reactions of some babies to see if they were actually capable of associate emotions with their real meaning, or if rather they limited themselves to to distinguish the expressive and vocal characteristics of the various moods.

At first the small participants were placed in front of one black screen listening to a neutral, happy or angry voice for a total duration of 20 seconds. Subsequently, the babies were shown for 10 seconds pictures that portrayed adults in the throes of a clear emotion (anger or happiness).

The study found that after listening to a happy voice for 20 seconds, the children they tended to linger longer in front of the photos that expressed angerThis is because the little ones they were surprised from the juxtaposition and this has allowed scholars to affirm with certainty that even after only 6 months of life, children they are perfectly capable of processing perceived information (both visual and auditory) and therefore recognize the various moods.

Read also: Can babies recognize emotions?

How to teach children to recognize emotions?

Le emozioni they are like a spectrum of colors, they pass through us, but we are not always able to give them a name. For this reason it is important to learn from an early age to recognize and manage them, for a balanced development. Sara Agostini, teacher and head teacher, tells them in a simple and fun way in the book The six stories of emotions, a useful tool to play and understand what you feel together with your children.

Here, according to Agostini, in ways in which mom and dad can "train" their children to recognize emotions:

  1. To listen. «The first piece of advice I feel like giving is to to listen e speak a lot - continues Agostini -, encouraging children to give a name to the things they experience, because theirs is wider language, the better they can describe what they feel, the more they will be able to handle it. This also applies to small children, who do not have a very rich vocabulary ».
  2. Draw. "You can devote yourself to language in a playful way, drawing smilies and giving names to expressions: through words we learn to recognize what's inside us ".
  3. To read. «Let's not forget to dedicate time to the reading, which is always an excellent "connection" to talk about a thousand things ».

An example of how emotion recognition can be practically applied is the management of a conflict situation, such as a litigation between brothers, or between friends. “At school we ask children to put yourself in the other's shoes, asking him what led him to behave a certain way. It also works through stories, identifying with the characters of a story. Then we ask the children to wait a moment before presenting emotions, and before reacting. Internalize, talk, say how it feels. This work helps to develop a very important ability, which in the future will help them in relationships, of all kinds ”, explains Agostini.

Read also: How to teach children to recognize emotions?

How to teach emotions through colors

«Learn to know your emotions, understanding, separating and identifying them allows you to know yourself better and build a bridge with the deeper desires and needs of each individual "explains Francesca Vavassori, psychologist who created the" I see everything pink "path to teach emotions to children through colors.

According to the psychologist, i colors are ideal toolsi to teach children, even younger ones, to recognize and express the emotions they feel with more awareness. To do this, you can use a playful approach: «In" I see everything pink "I welcomed the children in a structured space: each material chosen was positioned in a thoughtful and meaningful way, following some basic theoretical principles of the arts therapies. I worked with up to eight children to give them proper attention. To the small group I presented an emotion starting from the basic ones, such as anger, fear, joy, sadness, disgust, and I asked them to associate a color and / or a shape with this emotion », says Vavassori.

«Often the colors chosen to represent emotions were similar, as if to remind us that in each of us, even in children, there is a collective unconscious. The little ones associated red or black with anger, yellow with joy, blue with sadness, and so on. It is no coincidence that colors have had in history and still have a symbolic and emotional value that distinguishes them ».

«After the choice and the representation of the emotions I had the children tell, only if willing to share in a group, how their drawing was born, if the emotion felt remembered some episode in particular and where they felt it in the body. Being listened to by others and being able to share their stories, without judgment, was a fundamental moment of the path, because it allowed them to re-elaborate and become aware of their own experiences welcomed and contained by the group. Furthermore, the children learned that emotions have a bodily resonance and that this signal can be really useful for understanding their own experiences and managing them ".

This path can also be repeated at home with mum and dad, you just need to leave room for the children of express their inner world through drawing in a suitable, safe and secure place.

Read also: How to teach children to manage their emotions through colors

How to teach children to manage their emotions

"Many parents neglect to teach their little ones to pinch emotions," explained Laura Jana, fromAmerican Academy of Pediatrics, "but it is as important as any other skills to pass on to our children." In fact, the choices they make on important issues will depend on this, such as: what to eat, how much to sleep, how much to study, etc. Here are some tips.

  1. How to deal with a moment of anger. What should you do when your child goes wild because he has to pick up his socks off the living room floor? Rather than yelling at him you should: - Recognize that he is angry, but don't discuss it at that moment. Let him know that you are sorry for him, but do not try to solve the problem while he is angry, you would risk being engulfed in an argument. - Give it time to recover: it is not necessary to send him to his room, but suggest that he go somewhere to freshen up. Physical activity also helps children to burn out frustration. Try sending him out for a walk or two basketball shots. - When he's calm, then he can be talked about. After he is calm, then he can talk. Now you can ask him to explain why he was so angry and find a rational solution together. In this way you are teaching your children to accept the bad mood, calm down in a healthy way, and find a solution together.
  2. Improve communication. "It is important that your children feel comfortable sharing their feelings with you," she says, of the American Psychological Association. "Knowing what's happening in your children's lives can help you overcome potential problems." Here's how to practice these good habits: -Eat together: that of lunch or dinner is an important space for communicating and discussing problems. - Ask him the right questions. Don't ask, "How did she go to school?" you would have answers like: "all right"; rather ask him specific questions, for example: "how did the theater course go?"; or "how's your desk mate?". Your children feel more comfortable if they are not the subject of the questions. -Talk to him while you are doing other things. If your child sees that you sit in front of him to talk seriously, his defenses could rise. Conversely, keep the conversation informal, preferably doing other things, such as: driving, shopping or cooking.
  3. Adjust your daily routines. Get them used to good habits. Daily routines help create emotional stability. - Set a daily schedule. Set a regular pace for after-school activities: homework, dinner, bedtime. - Make sure she gets regular physical activity. We know that exercise can release chemicals into the body that make you feel good. And other research shows that regular exercise can also make children more confident and feel better about themselves. - Help him find the right way to relax. Children get stressed out too, and it's important for them to find ways to relax that isn't just lying in front of the TV or with a smartphone in hand.
Read also: How to teach children to manage their emotions

Mood management for our children step by step

For a growing child, understand how manage your mood it is as important as learning to walk and talk. Especially for the little ones it becomes crucial to learn the right emotional approach to face everyday challenges (school, sport, social relations ...) without becoming slaves of good or bad mood.

But how can a child learn to become "master" ofand their own emotions? Emotion control is not a natural practice: some strategies are needed. Here are some steps to learn how to do it, taken from the WebMd site:

  1. STEP 1. It is essential that they are parents in the first place understand how manage moments of turbulence immoral " of the little ones. It is useless to scold the child and put him in punishment; it is much more constructive become aware of his discomfort, give it time to "unwind" (perhaps suggesting that he take a walk in the garden or two shots at the ball) and then make him go back to his behavior once he has calmed down.
  2. STEP 2. According to Dr. then, the next step is to improve communication between parents and children. It is important that the children are at ease when they talk to mom and dad.
  3. STEP 3. Create a "healthy" routine it helps children a lot to develop greater self-confidence and to orient themselves with their emotions. It is therefore a good idea schedule the week with moments that alternate regular and stimulating activities with moments dedicated entirely to free time. Fundamental the sport and limitation of hours spent in front of TV or tablet.
Read also: How to teach mood management to our children

How to stimulate emotional intelligence

Donatella Celli she is the author of the book "The feeling of children" (New techniques), aimed at educators and teachers precisely to help them in catalyze in a positive, constructive and educational way what the little ones feel. Through clear and simple methodological indications, the author provides guidelines to deal with complex situations and to facilitate learning. Here are some ideas, according to Celli, that mothers or fathers can easily replicate even at home:

  1. To each his own language. Some people are inclined to write, others paint, still others transfer their emotions into music: this is also the case for children. The advice given by the teacher is to let the child choose the language with which to communicate.
  2. The achievements must be celebrated. Set small goals and set up gods rites with which to celebrate the achievement: the first task finished without getting up from the desk, the quarrel resolved without hitting each other, dressing alone without whims in the morning ...
  3. Expectations must be raised. After celebrating a new achievement, it may be useful to give the little one a new one obiettivo, more difficult to achieve enough to stimulate him to make new conquests and acquire new awareness, but not such as to scare him.
  4. Never forget your emotions. You must also value your own state of mind, tell your child when you feel particularly tired, angry, but also happy.
Read also: How babies feel: 5 ways to stimulate their emotions

The importance of the game to "learn" emotions

"The game, which always represents some small fragment of 'human comedy', is precisely the means by which children learn to explore and know the world, and therefore their own and other people's emotions". He states it Di Pietro, a playful pedagogist, to whom we asked to illustrate some fundamental aspects of the relationship between play and emotion, starting from an analysis of the most common play activities of childhood. Here are some of them.

  1. Games for two, with mum and dad. "We think of the games that parents play with their young children, such as the pony on their knees, the clapping, the stories with their fingers," says Di Pietro, who is also president of the research group on game of the Cemea, Centers of practice in the methods of active education. "They are games that are played 'face to face', in close physical contact, and in which a form of communication based on each player's ability to listen to emotions of the other ".
  2. Symbolic game. The symbolic game is one of the most played by children up to five / six years old, in which the child can also decide which emotion to stage and in which role to play. "Sometimes - says Di Pietro - they stage themselves: let's say that I was the child and you (to the mother) my mother, or let's say that I was the little sister and you (to the big brother) the big brother . In this way they can retrace the emotions they felt in particular situations, perhaps anger during a fight, or jealousy for their newborn brother, or the joy of a gift ". Emotions often explored with these fictions they are very strong, but the fact of getting to "touch them" in a frame that is that of the game, which can be broken at any time, helps not to get too involved. 
  3. Cuckoo and hide and seek. Hide and seek is also one of the most popular games, and it is for a long phase of life: children begin to experiment with it from very young, starting with the "Cuckoo / Bubù settete" (where the adult hides his face), and they can do it until adolescence. "Here the emotion most at stake may be related to one of the greatest fears one can experience, that of being abandoned, of being alone".
Read also: The importance of the game to "learn" emotions

Children, activities to explore emotions

It is very important to get the little ones used to recognizing emotions. A child who is able to verbalize what he is feeling will find help more easily, and, in turn, will be more empathetic with others. Here are some activities to explore the world of emotions.

  1. Emotions masks. Take some colored cards and draw the various emotions on them. Then glue them on top of old CDs decorated with colored cards and folded in the shape of sunbeams. You can play with the children to wear the "masks" of emotions and recognize them together.
  2. Emotions puppets. Take some cardboard rolls, cut them to have different heights. Then cut out a circle. On a separate sheet, draw various expressions for each roll. Finally insert the sheet so that you can scroll and change face. Children will enjoy playing with these puppets and changing their emotions depending on the game.
  3. The face of emotions. Build a face of emotions: from a cardboard make a large circle for the face and smaller shapes for the mouth, nose, eyes, eyebrows. Then aim them with sample clips inside the circle. Show the child how the elements of the face change according to the emotions: happy, sad, angry, surprised ... In this way the little one will learn to name and recognize the different emotions. 

Children: 10 activities to explore emotions

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Often children are overwhelmed by strong feelings which they cannot give a name or an explanation. This is why it is so important to get the little ones used to recognizing emotions. A...

Parents and children, that's why emotions should not be suppressed

According to a study conducted by researchers from the Washington State University Vancouver the tendency to repress negative emotions in front of the little ones, not only it doesn't do much goodon the contrary, it has some negative effects on their way of acting. Sara Waters, principal signature of the research, in the journal Emotion, explained that data to support the theory were gathered by observing the behavior of 109 parents - mothers and fathers - in the relationship with their children following an unpleasant episode.

But then how should you relate to your children when there is something wrong?

“If the children sense that something bad is happening, but the parents continue to behave normally, they are confused, because conflicting messages are sent,” Waters said. “So let the children see the whole picture. This helps children learn to regulate their own emotions and understand that problems can be solved. It is therefore always better to explain to them why you are angry and tell them what you will do to improve the situation ».

Read also: Parents and children: repressing one's emotions does not make the child feel better

  • emozioni
  • educate to emotions
  • 3-5 children years
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