Children's feelings: how you can accompany them mindfully

Reading time 7 minutes
Children's feelings: how you can accompany them mindfully

Quite a few parents are sometimes helpless in the face of their children's emotional outbursts. When a toddler throws a tantrum in the supermarket, for example, it is not easy to keep calm. This makes it all the more important to understand the emotional development of children and to be able to accompany them carefully.

Why are feelings important for children?

Even if it is exhausting, experiencing strong emotions is part of healthy child development. After all, it is only through these experiences that a stable personality and social competence develop. The child learns to name feelings and ultimately to deal with them. This process requires Time and patience.

If expressions of emotion are constantly suppressed or even punished, the child is denied important experiences. They do not learn to deal with frustration and anger in a healthy way. Instead, in the worst case scenario, they begin to express their displeasure through aggression or to deal with their grief themselves. Both of these have a significant impact on mental health.

Development of emotions in children: How do emotions develop?

When a child is born, it does not yet see itself as an independent person with its own feelings, but feels part of its mother. However, the process of cutting the cord begins in the first few months of life. By the time they reach school age, children have acquired the following basic emotional skills:

  • They are aware of their own feelings.
  • They can express their own feelings correctly using language and facial expressions.
  • You can recognize the emotional expressions of others Understanding people.
  • They have the ability to regulate their emotions.

Below we take a closer look at the emotional development process in the first three years of life:

1st year of life

In the first few months of life, a child acquires the ability to perceive different emotions and express them non-verbally (screaming, crying, whooping, squealing with joy, laughing). Around the first birthday, the child can already differentiate between the emotions of other people: Is mom angry or happy?

2nd year of life

Your child's feelings will become increasingly complex. In addition to the basic emotions, your child will also feel pride, guilt, shame, pity and even envy towards the end of their first year. Every day they learn something new and experience disappointments. This can lead to loud outbursts of anger. Learning not to be discouraged by failure is one of the most important steps in the development of a child. emotional development.

3rd year of life

The third year of life is characterized by the so-called Autonomy phase characterized. It is no coincidence that the latter is also known colloquially as the "defiant phase". Your child is becoming more and more self-confident and wants to do and try out lots of things on their own.

It protests against the boundaries set and tries with all its might to assert its will. Furthermore, emotional fluctuations are characteristic of the third year of life. Your child is torn between their great desire for autonomy and your protection.

strong feelings in children

Strong feelings in children: How do you deal with them?

Strong feelings in children, the causes of which sometimes feel irrational to us adults (e.g. a piece of bread cut the wrong way), undoubtedly tug at the nerves. Nevertheless, it is important to remain as calm as possible and support your child in regulating their strong feelings.

First of all, you should give your child the feeling that you take them seriously. Put their feelings into words: "I know you're sad because we have to go home from the playground now. I understand that you would still like to play." If your toddler is fussing and raging, don't forbid him: this is a waste of time anyway. Allow him to let his anger out.

And how are you feeling? Take a deep breath and try to stay calm. Your calm demeanor will be transferred to your child so that they calm down more quickly. Of course, you won't always be able to do this. Especially if it's the fiftieth tantrum in a day. Be gracious with yourself if you do have a tantrum. Continuity is important Dear and support.

5 tips to strengthen the sense of togetherness in children

1. loving start to the day

Take the time to lovingly wake your child in the morning rather than just knocking loudly on their door. You probably know this from yourself: It's much nicer to be woken up by your partner than by an alarm clock ringing.

2. common interests and activities

What is your child interested in? There are certainly lots of things you can do together. Do lots of things together. It is not important that these are big and expensive activities. Even an afternoon in the playground together will create wonderful memories that will bring you closer together.

3. support friendships

Encourage your child in this, Make friends with people of the same agewithout pushing them. Once your child has made friends, be open to them, even if you don't particularly like them. Show your child that you accept their social contacts.

4. involve children

You can strengthen children's sense of unity particularly effectively by involving them in decisions about everyday family life. This makes them feel important and heard. Discuss together what the children should eat or which excursions they would like to go on.

5. express belonging in words

Tell your child every day how much you love them and what a valuable part of the family they are. Even if your child may not yet be able to express themselves verbally, they understand more than you do. believe.

Book about feelings for children: How do you choose the right one?

Books are a wonderful way to introduce children to important topics. There are numerous books on the subject of children's feelings. To choose the right book for your child, you should pay attention to the following three criteria:

  1. Follow the age recommendation: Choose a book that is suitable for your child's stage of development in terms of content and language.
  2. Your child's personal preferences: Try to find book protagonists that your child likes. Whether dinosaurs, fantasy creatures or realistically portrayed, with parents and children: Your child must find the book appealing.
  3. The very best tip: choose the book together. This gives the child the best chance of really engaging with the story.

Working on feelings with children: Methods and exercises

1. naming feelings

In order to be able to deal with their feelings, your child must first learn to name them. You can lead by example here by expressing your own feelings verbally and with facial expressions. You can also help your child with specific questions:

  • How are you feeling right now?
  • Where do you feel the anger in your body?
  • What makes you sad?

2. give feelings a color

Children love to play with their imagination. This also works with the theme emotions and can help your child to communicate more quickly when they are overwhelmed by strong feelings. Why not make a color scale together from happy to sad?

3. emotional pantomime

You and your child take it in turns to portray different emotions that the other has to guess. Write all the emotions you can think of on small pieces of paper beforehand. Now everyone can draw a piece of paper in turn.

The role of coaching in the emotional development of children

Coaching is not just for adults. Children can also benefit enormously from it, especially when it comes to children's emotions. However, the prerequisite is that the entire family is involved in the coaching process.

A professional coach can analyze the family situation neutrally and give everyone involved ideas on how best to deal with children's strong feelings.

Strengthening a sense of unity in children: Tips for parents and teachers

1. talk about children's feelings: Family council / class lesson

The principle is similar and therefore works in both constellations. As a parent, it can be useful to plan a family evening once a week where all family members take time to talk about everything that is on their minds. The same applies in a school context. Weekly class lessons, which are moderated by the teacher or - depending on age - by a pupil, strengthen the sense of togetherness.

2. the silent dialog

This exercise also works both at home and in the classroom. First a question is asked: What changes would you like to see in our family / in our class? Everyone then takes it in turns to write an answer on the board or on a piece of paper. Once everyone has written their contribution, the answers are discussed.

3. family rules / class rules

Although children's feelings need space, there must be clear rules for everyone involved. First, suggestions are collected, with everyone being allowed to have their say in turn. Then the most important suggestions are voted on. Finally, the consequences of breaking the rules are determined.

development of emotions in children

Recommended books about feelings in children

Below we have put together a small selection of books that explain your child's emotional world in a loving way:

All the books listed on the subject of children's feelings are suitable for children aged two and over.

Your path to a better understanding of children's feelings

Children's feelings can be overwhelming, as they still have to learn how to deal with their emotions. The role of parents and teachers is to support children in this process. It is important that children's feelings are not suppressed, but that adults set an example and show how to deal with emotions. Strengthening the sense of togetherness also plays an important role.


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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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