Emotional awareness is important not only when mental problems arise, but throughout daily life. It is a concept that needs to be developed in both children and adults to prevent mental problems. The development of emotional literacy is very useful for building emotional awareness. The development of parents’ emotional literacy is also the first step for children to learn to stay connected with their emotions. Emotional literacy; It is defined as the ability of an individual to recognize, understand and respond to their own and others’ feelings in a healthy way. Being aware of emotions and succeeding in transforming them into our benefit allows children to know why they also experience an emotion and what they can do when they feel the emotions very intensely and have difficulty.
Emotional intelligence is explained by the individual recognition, control and management of emotions. In emotional literacy, there are emotional processes in both individual and social relationships. Emotional literacy refers to the set of skills related to emotions and perception of how emotions are experienced and to control reactions. Steiner, who first coined the term emotional literacy, would compare it to language learning and said that it can be developed from an early age. Purpose in developing emotional literacy; recognizing emotions, developing the ability to talk about why we feel and transform them into behaviors.
Don’t run away from feelings
Although living without suppressing emotions brings them to light, avoiding it may cause greater problems in the future. Emotions are functional. Emotions are also a good way to see that they won’t last forever. As an adult, look first at your own relationship to emotions. If you do not allow emotions to be experienced, if silence and tension prevail at home and in the immediate environment, your child may not have a wide repertoire of emotions. Remember that your child is also taking you as a model and don’t hesitate to talk about emotions from time to time. Of course, children draw strength from parents who are spiritually capable of self-regulation. Actually set an example for your child in this regard.
Talk about feelings
It is easier to see how an emotion can be reflected than it is on ourselves. To increase your emotional literacy with your child, try to see for yourself the emotion experienced by the hero in a cartoon or book. Then start a small conversation with your child about this feeling. “What do you think she feels?” “He looks angry, what do you think?” Raise awareness of emotions with dialogues like. Similarly, when your child demonstrates behavior you don’t like, bring your attention to emotional awareness instead of correcting the behavior. Focus on the underlying emotion, not the behavior your child is showing. “Why are you doing like that?” “Why are you acting like that?” Reflect your emotion to him with expressions like “You are angry” instead of questions like. Expressing it in your child’s place is the first step to start talking about the emotion he or she is experiencing.
Use materials and games such as emotion cards
If you have trouble identifying emotions, you can work on a list of emotions to improve your emotion vocabulary. Exercising about basic emotions increases both you and your child’s awareness. This makes it easier for you to notice the transitions between emotions. This also helps you recognize each emotion and its effects. You can give examples by saying “You couldn’t go to your friend’s birthday celebration and you were very upset” when talking about feelings with your child.
Preschool children need some exercise in discerning emotions before they can talk about emotions. The best method for this is game.
The emotional states you can teach your preschool child are as follows;
Happy, sad, angry, surprised / confused, scared, excited
Activities you can do at home about emotions;
• Show your child pictures with smiley expressions that reflect a variety of emotions and “How does it feel? What do you think happened? ” Ask questions like You can use pictures of children for this.
• Start a conversation with your child about emotions. If your child is not participating in the conversation, you can start the conversation by giving your example or postpone it to another time. Let your questions be about what emotions we can feel in what situations. “What surprises you most? When will you be surprised? ” “What scares you most?” You can ask questions like. Identify a case or case for each emotion and talk to your child about these possibilities. For example, make a sentence such as “If it starts to rain while getting ready to go to the park…” and ask your child to complete it.
• One of the activities you can do at home about emotions is different expressions of emotion that you can make with waste materials or scrap paper in your home. Cut eyes, mouth and nose shapes from paper to use on round paper. Express different situations with sentences such as “Let’s say you have your favorite soup at dinner” and ask your child to prepare different smiley expressions about the emotion he will experience in this situation.
• Choose a variety of music that can accompany your emotions. For example, choose a few songs that you can listen to when you’re happy. Stand in front of the mirror with your child and make different facial expressions in each piece of music. Give priority to your child and give them the opportunity to show emotions.
• Revive emotions with a drama game. If you have more than one child, you can act as a group game. Turn on the music and ask them to pretend to walk. Give examples that reflect various emotions with sentences such as “Now you saw a very interesting bird”. Encourage them to walk as if “surprised”. You can also join the story by pretending to be walking and enrich the drama content.
• If your child is emotionally triggered during conversation, play or activities and begins to cry or experience an intense emotion, do not stop him. “Why are you crying? Instead of showing an attitude like “What a nice game we were playing” or trying to be instructive, “You were upset that you couldn’t eat ice cream, right?” Name the feeling he experienced by saying and accompany his sadness. Phrases like “you are upset” help your child make sense of what is going on.
Article: Senem Tahmaz
References: “Validity and reliability study of the Emotional Literacy Scale” M.Palancı, M.Kandemir, H.Dündar, AR Özpolat (2014) International Journal of Human Sciences. Retrieved from: file: /// C: /Users/Senem/Downloads/2806-Article%20Text-8775-1-10-20140324.pdf