Encouraging your child to put himself in the shoes of others teaches him how to empathize with them (Shutterstock)

Expressing feelings is one of the necessary skills for a child’s development and personal, social and emotional growth, as it helps him understand himself and others, in addition to contributing to the development of his various abilities and skills.

Mental health expert Dr. Nathalie Al-Hajj tells Al Jazeera Net, “When parents show their feelings openly and honestly, they teach their children that feelings are normal and acceptable. When parents show how to deal with feelings in a healthy way, they help their children learn how to do so as well.”

Expressing feelings helps children communicate with others better (Shutterstock)

The process of encouraging children to talk about their feelings openly takes some time and effort, and Dr. Al-Hajj reviews some practical and simple ways to help them express, in addition to the most prominent positives:

  • Self-understanding:

    When children understand themselves better, they learn how to express their feelings and deal with them in a healthy way, this contributes to enhancing their self-confidence.

    Children may need help expressing their feelings, so expressive tools can be used, such as drawing or playing with dolls, pictures, and drawings, to encourage them to describe and express their feelings.

  • Communication:

    Communication with others helps children express their feelings better.

    They learn how to express their needs and interests.

    Thus, he forms strong friendships and enjoys strength and stability.

    Encouraging a child to put himself in the shoes of others teaches him how to empathize with them, which is an important skill for maintaining positive relationships with others.

    The child feels safe and self-confident when adults understand him (Shutterstock)

  • Emotional stimulation or not suppressing feelings:

    When children feel that adults understand them, this increases their self-confidence.

    Feeling safe also encourages them to explore their emotions and achieve greater achievements.

    It also guarantees the child healthy emotional, social, psychological and mental development.

  • Expressing negative emotions:

    Expressing negative emotions such as anger and sadness must help relieve emotional pressure and reduce stress.

    If children learn how to express these feelings in a healthy way, it will keep them away from hostility, and increase positive feelings that give optimism, courage, and enhance confidence along with self-esteem.

  • Promoting mental development:

    Expressing feelings contributes to enhancing children's mental development by stimulating their thinking and reasoning abilities.

  • Give them space to express their feelings:

    Teach them words that express different feelings.

  • Be a good role model:

    Be a good role model for your children, and express your feelings openly and honestly.

    Be a good role model for expressing feelings.

  • Considering the feelings of others:

    Children interact with others, so they must be encouraged to express their appreciation and concern for others.

    Natalie Al-Hajj stresses the importance of teaching the child to express his feelings without fear of criticism or punishment (Al-Jazeera)

Games that encourage the child to express his feelings

Al-Hajj stresses the importance of teaching a child to express his feelings without fear of criticism or punishment, “For example, when a child feels certain feelings, such as feeling happy after he finished a project, we might say to him: You can say, ‘I am very happy because I finished the project and I think it succeeded.’” She also stressed the importance of teaching a child to express his feelings without fear of criticism or punishment. The child must be asked questions about his feelings, and rely on daily questions to talk to the child about them, such as questions about his condition today and his feelings, whether he is happy or sad and what is the reason for that.”

The mental health expert reveals the importance of games that help the child express his feelings, including:

  • Character game:

    where children and their parents pretend (act) to be different people, and talk about their feelings, and dolls or imaginary characters can be used to represent different feelings and situations.

  • Emotions game:

    Represent different emotions with your facial expressions, and ask your child to guess, name, and describe these emotions.

  • Card game:

    You can prepare a set of cards that represent different feelings, such as the word happiness, sadness, anger, fear, etc., and sit with your child and choose a card to find out how he feels these feelings and why?

  • Describing feelings:

    Print different pictures that express different feelings, and display them in front of the child.

    Ask him to identify pictures that express his feelings at the moment and explain the reasons why he feels that way.

  • Seasons game:

    Discuss with the child specific feelings that occur in specific seasons. For example: “Summer makes me excited because the weather is right to go out and go swimming, but it also makes me sad because I miss my school friends during summer vacation... and so on.”

  • Expression through drawing:

    Be a good example for your child by drawing your own feelings. You can also share picture stories that express feelings, provide a comfortable environment for your child and encourage him to express freely. It may take time, so patience and endurance are required.

    Or draw faces or scenes that express different feelings, and then discuss the subject of the drawing with him, and ask questions about the colors and shapes he chose, without fear of judgment or criticism.

  • Story-reading game:

    While reading stories to children, have them guess the feelings of the characters in the story, then ask questions like: “How do you know that the character is feeling this way? Can you make a face that shows the story’s hero’s feelings in this situation?”

    Experts advise training the child to express his feelings through a number of games (Shutterstock)

Tips for teaching children to express their feelings

Under the title “Helping children express their feelings,” the Kids Help Line website published tips that can be followed to teach children how to express their feelings, facilitate communication with others and accept themselves without shame or fear of showing their feelings in the future, including:

  • Knowing the ways of expression:

    Maintaining eye contact with the child while he speaks, to understand what he is saying and monitor his behavior.

  • Knowing his mood:

    Knowing the child’s mood and behavior shows you the feeling he is feeling.

  • Describing feelings:

    Encouraging the child to describe his feelings so that he can name them, as frustration is not the same as sadness, fear is not the same as hesitation, and joy is not an exact synonym for happiness.

  • Social interaction:

    The child’s ability to express his feelings makes him an interactive person in his family, society, and environment. He has the skill of speaking on the one hand and is able to listen to the feelings of others on the other hand.

  • Tell the child the feelings of others:

    Help your child understand the feelings of others, by saying: Look, so-and-so felt upset because you told him (…), and you can follow up by asking your child how he would feel if this person did the same thing to him.

    Encouraging your child to put himself in others' shoes teaches him how to empathize with them, which is an important skill for maintaining positive relationships with others.

Source: Al Jazeera + websites