Even if there are many similarities between emotions and feelings, these words define slightly different concepts.
Even if there are many similarities between emotions and feelings, these words define slightly different concepts. Emotions are spontaneous reactions to a situation. They can manifest themselves in physical ways (paleness, blushing, agitation, accelerated heart beat or respiration, sweating, etc.) and psychological ways (negative or positive thoughts, mood changes) over a short period of time. Joy, fear and anger are such examples.
Feelings, on the other hand, represent an emotional state that lasts longer and evolves over time. Feelings develop, grow and sometimes end up disappearing. Some examples include love, hate, trust, distrust, insecurity and happiness.
While they are different, emotions and feelings are closely linked. Feelings allow you to experience all sorts of emotions, and conversely, emotions can generate feelings. For example, if your toddler was afraid of the neighbour’s dog (emotion) because it barked at him, he may end developing insecurity (feeling) at the sight of a dog.
The “bacon dance”
Any emotion your child is feeling (anger, fear, joy…) may give rise to disturbing behaviour. Is your child ever so happy that he gets overexcited, screams, jumps and runs all over the place? Or so angry that he does the “bacon dance”—flip-flops around on the floor like bacon frying in a skillet—hits, bites or screams so loud your eardrums nearly burst? It’s that he still hasn’t learned how to control his emotions and externalize them in an acceptable manner. “In young children, emotions are mostly expressed in non-verbal ways,” notes Sylvain Coutu, psycho-education and psychology professor. “But as they develop language and learn to talk about what they are feeling, these emotions become easier to manage.” In the meantime, when your child expresses his emotions in an excessive manner, you can step in and try to guide him towards less disturbing behaviour, such as roaring like a lion instead of screaming, or squeezing his fists tight as an alternative to throwing things.