Whatever is mentionable can be more manageable, but young children often have trouble telling us what they’re feeling. Many of them don’t use words well yet. Sometimes feelings are a jumble inside and hard to sort out or to name. Through play, we can encourage children to put their feelings into words.
Being able to use words to describe what they are feeling gives children power over their feelings. Giving words to feelings can make them become a lot less overwhelming or upsetting or scary. Also, when children can talk about their feelings with a caring listener, they find out that their feelings are natural and normal, and that others have felt that way, too.
Finding Outlets for Feelings
Have you noticed that you get tense and tight when you’re upset, angry, or worried? There’s a lot of physical energy tied up in feelings. When children have healthy outlets, they have ways to release some of the energy that is bound up inside.
What works as a release for one child may not work for another. It can take a while until a child finds some way of expression that’s comfortable for him or her. That’s why providing children with lots of different activities—-like music, painting, working with clay, or some physical activity—-can allow them ways to discover what feel right for them.
Using words to describe what’s inside helps remind us that what we’re experiencing is human…and mentioning our feelings to others can make them feel more manageable.