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Emotional behaviors are complicated and like adults, children also experience similar feelings. Children experience many different types of emotions – frustration, excitement, feeling nervous, sadness, jealousy, fear and embarrassment. It is challenging to teach children about emotional feelings because to them, it is an abstract concept. They usually are unsure how to describe their feelings, as they are unaware of such human behavior. Instead, they communicate their feelings in ways known to them. Oftentimes, children express their feelings through facial expressions, body language and in their own individual behavior.

According to research, children begin learning about emotions as soon as they are born. This learning then develop at a rapid pace in their early childhood years. When it comes to identifying, expressing and managing their feelings, children learn to do this through their social interactions and their relationships with their parents, grandparents and care givers. Being a parent means you play an important role in nurturing your child’s emotional understanding. Coaching children to self-regulate is a key milestone in a child’s development, which affects their mental health, academic performance and their ability to grow in the real world.

The first step in teaching children to self-regulate is by allowing them to notice and identify their own feelings. This is seen as the first key step because by recognising and accepting their feelings, it will help them build greater self-awareness.

As adults, we must always politely remind children in a positive manner that they have the right to feel the emotions – be it happy or sad. This will then lead them sharing and opening up more, which will facilitate parents to identify what triggers their children’s emotions. It is also important for parents to also share their thoughts and opinions, as this will encourage their children to do the same.

In addition to teaching children with coping strategies, we must also emphasise to them to pause and think before reacting quickly in any life situation. This will help them develop self-control. For younger children, it can be as simple as counting to ten before responding.

However, parents must be aware that you cannot fix everything. The aim should be to always teach your child how to solve their own problems. Good parenting is about approaching every situation with a high degree of emotional intelligence and integrity. What helps children grow is through receiving positive acknowledgement and support. Additionally, we adults must remind our children that we are proud of them when they try to handle a difficult situation with maturity and poise.

Finally, it must be said that children imitate and learn from their parents. According to James Baldwin, “Children have never been good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” This is why parents need to be open and expressive in every life situation, as it will encourage their children to absorb the skills that their parent’s showcase. If we can teach young children about emotional expression and feelings, this will help them become rationale and noble human beings.