Today I overheard my preschooler say to his younger brother, “That makes me angry…Look at me…I’m angry because you stepped on my foot and it hurt! Say sorry!” I was so proud that he was communicating his feelings calmly but assertively instead of pushing, hitting, or yelling. The entire thing was resolved without my involvement. I was proud of him.
It’s our job as parents to give our kids tools to express themselves in healthy ways. Have you ever wanted to find a book reflecting what your child is feeling? One that helps explain, in simple terms, the complexity of emotions we experience (anger, worry, jealousy, etc.)? An excellent series is “The Way I Feel” by Cornelia Maude Spelman, who is an author, artist, and clinical social worker.
Spelman has written the series “to help children identify and manage their emotions and relate successfully to each other” These picture books are perfect for preschoolers. They feature adorable animals young children can relate to. Included in each book is a note for parents with tips on discussing the specific feeling with their child. For example, in “When I Care About Others” she includes a list of tips for promoting empathy, such as serving as a role model by naming and talking about your own feelings, having children think of examples from daily life that illustrate how we respond to each others’ needs, demonstrate the pleasure we feel when we are able to help others, have children act with puppets or toys to role play how others might feel in certain situations, etc.
When my preschooler and I read these together, it seems to normalize feelings he’s having and offer reassurance. There are other books out there with similiar subject areas, but this is one of the best. Check out this list for babies, toddlers and preschoolers, and this one offers another group of suggestions by topic with suggested age ranges.