In recent years, the emotional education of children has been a subject on which, fortunately, a lot of emphasis and attention is being placed. Both families and schools are concerned and interested in how to educate the emotions and feelings of their children or students and, in this way, enable them to obtain greater opportunities for personal, social and academic success.
Although many times we speak of emotions or feelings as if they were synonyms, the truth is that they are not exactly. To differentiate emotion from feeling in an easy way, we can say that emotion is a short-term physiological, cognitive and behavioral reaction to a specific stimulus that causes the following 7 basic emotions: sadness, joy, fear, anger, disgust, surprise, or shame.
The feelings, on the other hand, are the result of the evaluation that we make of the emotions. This is a more lasting and stable state of mind. To give a practical example, we can say that a whole range of different feelings can open up from the sadness emotion: hopelessness, loneliness, despondency, apathy, ... depending on the psychological evaluation we make of that first emotional reaction.
So the feelings that are nothing but the conscious and subjective evaluation of emotions, they can be educated just like we do with emotions: through games, stories or different activities that we can carry out with children.
In order to educate feelings and emotions, we must:
1. Provide children with the necessary emotional vocabulary to identify how they feel, working on self-knowledge (ability to name our emotions and feelings).
2. Stimulate the acquisition of social skills as important as empathy, that is, that they are able to put themselves in the place of the other, recognize and accept their physical, cultural or emotional differences.
3. Work on self-control, the ability to handle strong emotions and not get carried away by the first impulse.
For this we can use different resources like the ones we propose here.
1. We can create our own album of emotions and feelings collecting photos of people, animals or cartoons that express different emotional states. It is about observing the images, which we can cut out of magazines or newspapers, and name the emotion it represents.
Once identified, we ask the child to explain to us what could have made that person feel this way, how he would feel in his place and what he could do in case he needs help. In this way we work on the emotional vocabulary, we evaluate the emotion generating a feeling and finally we look for the empathic relationship between the character and the child.
2. The stories and tales They are undoubtedly an excellent material for working on children's emotions and feelings as they provide the right climate to establish an excellent connection with what our little ones feel.
Currently there are a multitude of titles focused on working, for example jealousy, joy, sadness, loneliness, ... but it is not necessary that we acquire them all, any classic story or not, is perfectly valid to educate the feelings of children .
In all of them we see various feelings reflected in which we can emphasize and reflect together with the children about what is happening and why. Generally, the stories that are presented in them show the consequences of not having control over emotions or offer adequate answers to how to manage anger.
3. Play 'Now I feel ... because ...' . This is a game that we can put into practice at any time, it is about the child learning to think and verbalize how they feel in a certain situation, for example when they lose a toy, watch TV or go to the park.
The best thing is for the adult to start by saying, for example 'Now I feel happy because I'm with you', 'Now I feel calm because I'm at home',…. These examples facilitate emotional expression and generate the conscious evaluation that gives rise to the feeling that arises from it.
These are just three examples of how to educate children's feelings. Any everyday situation is an excellent opportunity to offer children the emotional tools they will need for the rest of their lives: self-knowledge, self-control, social skills and responsible decision-making.
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