Preschoolers are very young and cannot understand feelings and emotions. They need the help and guidance of parents and teachers to help them understand even their own feelings and emotions. Preschoolers also need guidance to communicate their feelings effectively. As parents and teachers, it is your responsibility to provide them with necessary emotional and social tools to break down tense situations and understand themselves in a better way. By teaching preschoolers how to express their feelings and the ways to respond to the emotions of people around them, you help them identify and deal with not only their own emotions and feelings but also those of others.
Preschools often neglect this important aspect of child’s development. But if the preschool has QualityKG accreditation then this aspect is very well taken care of. QualityKG provides a loving and nurturing environment that enables preschool teachers to organize many activities for children.
What parents and teachers can do
To teach preschoolers feelings and emotions, parents and teachers can do the following:
1. Give preschoolers names for their feelings and emotions
Begin by teaching simple emotions such as happy or sad, angry or frightened. When the child has mastered these emotions move on to the descriptive ones such as excited or thankful, lonely or frustrated etc. Preschools should help children to be socially capable and enable them to identify and respond to social cues.
2. Teach emotions through storytelling
Teach children concepts of emotions and feelings during story or activity time. Pictures and facial expressions will help children understand the relationship between feelings and self-expressions. Help preschoolers put feelings into words.
3. Let them express their feelings
Let preschoolers express their feelings and emotions without any sense of shame or guilt. Understanding and managing feelings and emotions is a social and emotional developmental milestone for children. Encourage children to express their feelings properly rather than repressing them or expressing them without any regard for others’ feelings. For instance, if your child is angry and wants to hit others, find a suitable way for her to express her anger. Teach her that being angry is normal but hitting hurts others.
4. Model self-control
Voice your own feelings and emotions in a calm and descriptive language. Children learn not only through experience but also by observing others. Look for teaching opportunities to show preschoolers how to express strong feelings and emotions in suitable ways.
5. Let them interact
Solve the emotional conflicts among preschoolers without taking control of the situation. Encourage them to communicate their emotions and feelings to both parents and teachers. Social and emotional development is very important for preschoolers. Give them opportunities to interact with others involving sharing. If there is a conflict, ask him how he feels and why. Then ask him, what he thinks will resolve the conflict. Encourage him to tell this to his friend. Help your child in this conversation till the time he is able to communicate his feelings effectively. This will provide your child with the necessary skills to handle the situations when you are not there.
6. Give him space
Give your child the space he needs to explore his feelings. If he needs time to calm down, give him a book or a toy and let him be by himself at a quiet place. Do not associate alone time with punishment. A child needs to understand that being alone for some time is natural to understand his own emotions and feelings. It is not the consequence of doing something wrong.
4 Feelings activities for Preschoolers
Helping preschoolers to identify and express their feelings is very important. Here are a few feelings activities for children that will help them learn more about feelings.
1. Reading about feelings
One way to teach children about feelings and emotions is to read books about it to them. This will not only teach them about feelings but will also make them a patient listener. Hence it is also a kind of mindfulness exercise.
2. Feelings sort
For feelings sort activity, initially focus on just five primary feelings – happy and sad, angry and surprised and scared. Get pictures representing each of these feelings. Next, present an example of each feeling to children – how people react when they feel a particular emotion. For instance, people have wide eyes when they are scared and surprised but the shape of their mouths is different in both the feelings. After this, ask preschoolers to sort out the pictures into separate piles for each feeling.
3. Feelings charades
Another activity that you can play with preschoolers is feelings charades. Turn by turn children draw a feeling card and then act out that feeling. Other children guess the feeling. This activity teaches children to identify and recognize different feelings and emotions.
4. Feelings stress balls
Now, this is a very interesting activity – feelings stress balls. What you need for this is some balloons, uncooked rice, and a funnel. Insert the funnel into the top of the balloon and hold it. Let children pour some rice into the balloons. Take out the funnel and blow some air into the balloon so that rice moves down and space is created to pour more rice. When the balloons are full, draw faces on them representing emotions such as happy, surprised, scared, sad and angry. Preschoolers will have lots of fun playing with their feelings stress balls.