“Emotions are important and can determine the kind of behaviour your child displays,” advises play therapist and Clamber Club Expert Anna Rodrigues. “A young child does not have the language to tell what he is feeling so his feelings come out in his behavior,” she adds. A child who feels angry for example could be defiant; a child who feels sad may cry continuously and a happy, content child may smile often and be compliant. A child who knows that there are many different emotions can name them and has a greater ability to be in control of those emotions.
How can you help your child show his emotions?
Start by looking at ways to help your child recognize his different emotions. “The first four emotions your child should recognise as a toddler is the happy face, the sad face, the angry face and the scared face,” says Anna. As you page through a magazine with your child or read him a story at night, point out the emotions the characters may be experiencing. As your child becomes familiar with those emotions highlight other emotions such as the excited teddy, the frustrated little boy or the nervous horse.
Secondly, allow your child to experience these emotions through play. Children love to pretend and to fantasize. So, let your child pretend to be a mad dinosaur or a scared bird. Notice the expression on your child’s face as he plays out these emotions.
There are also many negative emotions that your child may feel, he may feel annoyed, upset, confused, scared, angry or disillusioned. “These are all normal to experience, but when he starts to act out and misbehave or internalise these hard feelings it is important to help him to release these emotions in a playful manner,” advises Rodrigues.
How high is your PQ when it comes to your child?
There is so much importance placed on the child’s IQ and EQ, however we should add PQ – playful quotation, to this group.
Here are our top playful activities to do with your child to help him release negative energy or negative feelings:
- Wet a newspaper and hold it up in front of your child and let him hit it hard with his fists.
- Hold a play dough/clay throwing competition to see who throws the play dough/clay the furthest. For the younger toddler let him tightly squeeze the play dough. As he squeezes his fingers into the dough reflect what he might be feeling e.g. “yes it makes you cross when someone takes your toy”
- Throw balloons filled with water against a wall – WHAT FUN!!
- Lay out some cushions and kick them around with your child. What can work well too is taking empty cooldrink/food cans and letting your child kick them hard. The sound can be exciting too.
- Blow bubbles. This works better with a preschool child who is expressing a level of irritation or annoyance. If your child is going to blow hard into the ring, then no bubbles will form. The child will learn that blowing gently will create lots of bubbles.
- For an infant it is important that their basic needs are met by a parent or caregiver. Infants begin to trust their needs will be met and that the world is a safe place. When the child feels safe his emotional needs are met.
Contributed by Play Therapist, Anna Rodrigues from Play Therapy and Counselling
Tel: 082 925 2826
Address: 86 Skilpad Road, Monument Park, Pretoria