Emotions: a key aspect of social skills

Emotions: a key aspect of social skills
Si votre enfant a tendance à frapper ou à mordre quand il est contrarié, il est bon de reconnaître son émotion.

Children also need their parents’ help in learning to identify their emotions and manage their feelings. “ It’s essential to label your child’s emotions so that he can recognize them and learn to express his feelings in words, ” says Claire Gascon Giard, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Quebec Psychoeducational Centre (CPEQ). “ For example, you can say : ‘You’re angry. You didn’t like it when I told you to stop playing and come to take your bath. You can tell me that. ’”

If your child has a tendency to hit or bite when he’s upset, it’s good to acknowledge what he is feeling. You can say something like : “ I understand you’re angry. But you must not hit. You must say it in words. ”

It’s also beneficial to teach your little one different ways to handle her emotions. Whenever Raphael, Leah or Ellie are upset or over-excited, their dad Yohann suggests they take deep breaths to calm down. He’s shown them how to move their hands apart slowly as they breathe in and to bring them back together again as they breathe out. And it works!

The harder it is for your child to understand his feelings, the harder he may find it to control them and the more likely he is to have problems in his relationships with others.

As a starting point, Stéphanie Deslauriers suggests asking your child about the feelings of the characters in the books you read together. For example, ask: “ What did little bear do to cheer himself up? What about you – what makes you feel better when you’re sad? ”

Remember, too, that you are a role model for your child. “ If you are angry yourself, it’s a good idea to say aloud how you feel and that you’re going to take some deep breaths, listen to some music or take a bath to calm down, ” France Capuano says.

Boys and girls : are there differences?
In general, girls are better than boys at expressing verbally what they feel. But is this something they’re born with or a skill they learn? Studies show that most psychological differences between girls and boys come from their upbringing and social attitudes. “ Adults have different attitudes toward boys and girls, ” says psychoeducator Stéphanie Deslauriers. “For instance, we tend to talk more to girls, which helps them develop their verbal skills. Whereas with boys, we encourage their physical strength and tolerate physical aggressiveness to a greater degree. Girls are aggressive too, but in a different way. From the age of 4, they use a more indirect (and verbal) form of aggressiveness, for example talking about others behind their back or ganging up against someone. As for other social skills, like sharing, co-operation and empathy, there is little difference between the sexes, according to a study carried out by Université Laval.