How can parents encourage children to express emotions?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 16,637
    Parenting educator Dr. Rene Hackney talks about how parents can encourage children to express emotions.

    Rene Hackney

    Originally a full-time preschool teacher, Dr. Rene Hackney now holds a Master?s in school psychology and a PhD. in developmental psychology from George Mason University. She trained at the Developmental Clinic at Children?s National Medical Center and for the public schools, teaching in parenting programs at each. She has also acted as a consultant to several area preschools.

    For the last four years, Dr. Hackney has owned and lectured for Parenting Playgroups, Inc, a parenting resource center and preschool classroom in Alexandria Virginia. She has offered workshops to a wide

    range of parent, teacher and social work groups during this time.

    Workshop topics include eight hours on positive discipline techniques, five hours on early academic issues and common issues such as sibling rivalry and potty training. All workshops provide well researched lecture, in-class practice and open discussion time. Additionally she hosts a monthly parenting focused book club and fun play programs to introduce the preschool setting to young families.

    Dr. Hackney is married and has two young children of her own.

    Host: How can parents encourage children to express emotions?

    Rene Hackney: There are lots of ways for parents to encourage young children to express emotions. One of the easiest is just reading books that have emotional content. Now, many of them do, you don t have to go out and get special books, but things like Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day. There is a child in there who is frustrated throughout the day and so, the parents while they are reading the story can talk about how is Alexander feeling, why he is feeling that way and encourage the child to talk about Alexander s feelings.

    Another way parents can do is through role playing. If children have had an argument over a toy they can say Wow! This doll baby has the toy and this doll baby wants the toy, what are they going to do? Children are often much more comfortable to role play with the dolls or with the puppets and to talk about it themselves. Then you make a more emotional language that way.

    Another good way is just to label emotion ourselves. If you are able to label your own emotions with children and talk about the reason why you feel that way, being able to say to a young child While I am frustrated no one seems to be listening. They are learning about that frustration, they are learning about how it expressed and what the language sounds like also giving empathy to young children.

    Whenever they are expressing emotions for the parent to label that emotion for them Wow! You are mad; you want it to be in charge Wow! You are excited -- daddy s home. It's giving them the label while they are experiencing that emotion it helps them to take on that language themselves.