All Emotions Are Ok

Childhood is filled with big emotions!

Being able to understand and express your own feelings and how to effectively respond to them is emotional intelligence. Children's brains are not fully developed and therefore communicating emotions is difficult. It is important to note that the human brain is not fully matured until their mid 20s, therefore our expectations of our children’s developmental capabilities needs to shift. 

Each part of the brain has a specific and important role. There are three primary sections of the brain that are directly responsible for controlling emotions and behaviors. These include the brainstem, limbic system, and prefrontal cortex. Click here to better understand how each of the different parts of the brain contribute to processing emotions.


While it may be uncomfortable to watch our children go through ‘difficult’ feelings like sadness, anger, anxiety, or loneliness, it’s important to resist the urge to try to fix, distract, or make our children's feelings go away. 


How To Help Your Child Learn To Express Emotions

To help support your child’s emotional intelligence we need to move away from “dismissing and denying” our child’s feelings, to identifying and naming emotions in order for the child to feel understood and validated (Siegel and Bryson, 2012). Sometimes parents avoid discussing emotions with the thought that doing so will only reinforce the difficult feelings. However, discussing emotions helps normalize, identify, and learn how to respond to them when they happen again (which they will!).

Dr. Daniel Siegel, author of The Whole Brain Child, developed a strategy called “Name It to Tame It” to help caregivers navigate big emotions. The idea is to support, model and teach your child about emotions. Naming the emotion and putting a label to what your child is feeling has a “taming” effect, as your child can share their experience and feel heard and understood. This helps a child make sense of and feel more in control of the situation. 

Once the concepts about emotions have been introduced, parents can continue to grow emotional knowledge by:

  1. Expressing and labeling your own feelings.
  2. Identifying feelings in others around them and in stories, movies, or television shows.
  3. Helping your child name their own emotions.