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Helping Kids Express Their Feelings

Medically reviewed by Jezreel Esguerra, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Dec 02, 2022

    Helping Kids Express Their Feelings

    Why should we express feelings? It’s not unusual to see a child throwing a tantrum over a toy or game. Normally, parents respond by quickly pacifying or sternly scolding their child. However, so-called ‘bad behavior’ isn’t always an issue with discipline. Young kids have complex emotions like adults but can’t accurately express feelings with words, thus leading to outbursts1.

    As adults, bottling up emotions is unhealthy and can lead to mental health problems. Identifying and expressing emotions is just as important for young children, if not more so. Children who learn to identify, control, and express their feelings are described to have high EQ.

    These children are often more empathetic, optimistic, and resilient than those who lack emotional maturity. Additionally, people with higher EQs make friends more easily, form stronger relationships, and perform better in school and later on in the workplace.

    How you can help your child identify and express feelings

    Tip #1 – Keep an eye on their behavior

    Although family members live under one roof, there can be times you feel like strangers rather than a happy family. Work, school, friends, and gadgets are just a few examples of things that can keep everyone busy. With everything going on, it may be easy to miss subtle signs and hidden emotions.

    For example, a child cooping themselves up in their room may not seem like a big deal to some. However, this behavior might be due to stress, anxiety, or even a traumatic event. Sudden or dramatic changes in behavior, especially withdrawal, anger, and rebellion, are often red flags2.

    Without someone at home to spot and support them, kids can feel lost and frustrated. That is why it is important for parents to understand how their children express feelings normally in order to pick up when something is amiss.

    Tip #2 – Walk them through their feelings

    As mentioned previously, children feel much of the same emotions that adults do, but don’t always have the right words to describe them. Next time your child cries, don’t be so quick to silence them.

    For adults, crying is usually associated with sadness. It is normal for us to vent and express feelings to our best friend or partner. However, crying children are not always sad. Sometimes the reason behind their tears is hunger, pain, frustration, or need for attention3.

    Part of being emotionally intelligent is being able to identify what you are feeling and why you are feeling that way. As a child, having someone you trust to unpack thoughts and emotions relieves built-up stress and helps make coping easier. As a parent, being able to guide your child through tough times strengthens your relationship and trust, making it easier to establish a happy family.

    Tip #3 – Listen, listen, listen

    Raising your child to promote high EQ is not the same thing as lecturing them. When it comes to understanding your child’s thoughts and the way they express feelings, active listening is a must.

    Make good eye contact and sit with them at eye-level. This lets them know that you are focused on what they have to say and you will be less intimidating. Avoid telling them how they should feel about a certain event or person. Instead, go over or repeat back what your child said to let them know you were paying attention4.

    Active listening skills are also important for your child to learn as they grow up and aids in their EQ development.

    Tip #4 – Set a good example

    Last but not least, be a role model to your child. You may think that your child inherited your attitude but it can’t all be blamed on genetics. Children typically take things at face value and do not respond well to contradictions. The phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do” is not in their vocabulary5.

    Parents who are unable to express feelings in healthy ways will have a hard time raising kids who can. Yelling and other destructive behaviors negatively affect everyone. Seek professional help from a therapist if you have been struggling with difficult thoughts and emotions for long periods of time. Both you and your child will benefit from it.

    Learn more about helping your child develop high EQ here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Jezreel Esguerra, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Dec 02, 2022

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