To guarantee your child can effectively communicate their emotions, teach them the power of “I” statements. These statements are used to de-escalate an emotional situation and focus on the emotions being felt and what can be done to fix the issue. Most importantly, they make the child’s needs known.
The earlier children are introduced to “I” statements, the more likely they are to be open about their feelings and better equipped to handle them. To start, introduce your child to simple emotions such as anger, happiness and sadness. This will allow them to recognize what they are feeling and put it into words.
As they get older, expand their emotional vocabulary and ensure they know the difference between certain emotions that may be overshadowed by other emotions. For example, a child may be feeling angry and identify with that emotion at first. But underneath that, there may be feelings of embarrassment or fear that are being masked by the more general feeling of anger.
It’s important that these “I” statements about the emotion they are feeling are also followed by an “I” statement of what they need in order to feel better. Once your child figures out what emotion they are feeling, they should communicate what they need to feel better. Not only will this help you communicate with your child, but it will also set them up for the future to not only express their emotions, but to know what they need to feel better and give them the confidence to share with others their needs.
The best way for your children to understand how to use “I” statements is to practice using them yourself. If your child is throwing a tantrum and calling you names or saying hurtful things, rather than lashing out at them, tell them how it feels for you to be called those names and why their actions are hurtful. This exercise should help your child learn to communicate their emotions, improve their levels of emotional intelligence and help them become more empathetic towards others.
by Jessica Lee