Understanding & Labeling Emotions

October 13, 2021
Understanding & Labeling Emotions

Labeling emotions is a great way for parents to promote secure attachment, self regulation, and perspective taking skills. Labeling and validating a child’s emotions helps them to feel heard and understood, to learn about how to regulate their own emotions in the future, and to understand the emotions of others. Keep reading to learn how you can model labeling emotions during your next visit:

  • Empathize with fears – Vaccine administration is one of the more stressful events for both caregivers and children during a well-child visit. If a child is upset, you can acknowledge their feelings and say, “I know that you’re afraid of getting your flu shot. That’s okay. Your mom and I are here for you, and these shots will make you stronger and healthier!”
  • Discuss parental self-regulation – Some procedures can be stressful for parents as well. You can tell families that in upsetting situations, children take cues from their parents. By modeling calm, adaptive responses, they can not only soothe their child, but also serve as potential role models. They can say, “Seeing needles makes me feel upset and scared too, so the first thing I am going to do is take three deep breaths to calm myself down.”
  • Model explaining how a child’s actions make others feel – You can promote the development of perspective taking skills by labeling your own emotions in the visit. You can say something like, “When you told me about all the healthy foods you’ve been eating, it made me feel so proud!”

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