Do this activity while you are both feeling calm and discuss only one emotion at a time. Return another day to look at the next ones on the list.
Pick one of the feelings listed below and ask your child to tell you one or two things that have made them feel that way.
You might ask them to tell you what makes them feel happy. If writing is something they enjoy, you could ask them to write about something that made them feel calm, worried or sad.
The aim is to have your child consider things that make them feel that emotion, whether they say their answer, draw a picture, write a story or anything else.
Make sure to let them know that all feelings are allowed and that nothing they say is wrong. None of us can help how we feel; our feelings are things that happen to us, it is our behaviour that we can learn to control.
Some emotions to start with are:
When they tell you what makes them feel that way, discuss that emotion a bit more.
Good questions to ask are:
‘Where in your body do you feel *insert emotion+?’
‘How do you behave / what do you do when you feel *insert emotion+?’
If they tell you that they behave in a damaging or unsafe way when they experience certain feelings, ask them how that behaviour makes them feel. All of this will help them understand how they feel and why they react the way they do. It will help you to understand their motivations better as well.
If their answers make you feel angry or worried, try to stay calm and allow them to express themselves. You could say things like:
‘I’d prefer you didn’t hurt yourself/people when you are feeling angry. Can you think of anything different you could do when you feel that way instead?’
Give them permission to talk freely about how they feel and why they behave in certain ways when they feel that way. Explore and learn these things together.
Make sure to tell them, as often as you can, that there is no wrong way to feel. We can’t control our feelings, only our actions.