How Reading Helps Children Understand and Manage Their Emotions

How Reading Helps Children Understand and Manage Their Emotions

Emotions can feel like a big deal  for little people. When children are young, they may not understand what they are feeling or why, or how to yet manage those big emotions. 

One way parents can help children understand and manage their emotions, even from a young age, is through reading. Books can help children learn different emotions, what can create these emotions, what to do when these feelings are being experienced. In fact, there are books made specifically to help children connect with their emotions and even learn empathy for others through these learnings.

There are a few things parents can do to better help their children get the most from books and understanding and managing their emotions from them. 

How to Help Children Understand & Manage Their Emotions Through Reading

Share reading experiences.

Reading together with your child can help create opportunities for meaningful connections. The shared reading experience helps foster emotional bonds between children and adults, allowing them to engage in discussions about characters’ emotions and experiences. This bond can help children feel comfortable asking questions or sharing their emotions, and even approach these adults when not reading. It also gives you the opportunity to ask questions and have your child explore their thoughts and feelings about what they are reading further.

Show empathy and understanding.

When your child shares an idea, questions or feeling, ensure you make them feel comfortable in having done so. Show empathy and understanding, even relating with your own feelings or thoughts. You can ask further questions to help them feel heard, and deepen that bond. By feeling heard and understood, your child can better understand their emotions and how they can manage these feelings in the future.

“Part of children learning to understand and manage their emotions is to first know it’s okay to feel emotions. Providing a safe environment for children to express themselves will help them be able to gain that understanding and be able to learn to self-manage their feelings.”

Help them be self-aware.

As children read about different experiences and emotions, have them relate it back to their own experiences. Activities in Busy Books are a good way to create opportunities to have these discussions.  

In books like, My Body Mindfulness, children get to partake in activities where they associate different actions with emotions. One activity has them match how they would feel with an event. For example, there is a picture of a child who has fallen off their bike. You can take the chance to ask your child why they might feel like that or if they had a friend who fell off their bike, how they think they could make them feel happy again. It helps them connect information with real-world experience, creating greater understanding of their emotions.

Make reading fun.

The more fun you can make learning, the more your child will want to get involved. Using books with activities, bright images and interactive features can help children be more engaged in learning, especially those with learning disabilities or developmental disorders. 

Parents of children on the spectrum have noted the benefits of Busy Books in helping engage their child in learning their emotions. While typical story books aren’t able to hold their attention, they find the activities in Busy Books are able to keep their child happy and eager to learn for the time it takes to get through the book. For parents who are struggling with having their child read and want them to experience the benefit of understanding of managing their emotions through reading, Busy Books may help you do that. 

Frequently Asked Questions

At what age do kids understand feelings?

Children develop the ability to recognise and name emotions between the ages of 3 to 8. Around the age of 4, children will start to learn empathy and compassion, and recognising the emotions of others. Studies also suggest babies as young as 6-months old may react to different emotions.

Why do children struggle with emotional regulation?

Children may struggle with emotional regulation while they are still learning how to understand and manage their emotions. Their genetics, temperament, environment, if they are hungry or how they are feeling may also impact their ability to regulate their own emotions. As they age, children will learn how to better associate and manage their emotions.

How does reading promote emotional development?

Reading has been linked to all areas of emotional intelligence and development. It helps children gain insight into different emotions, perspectives, experiences and how different situations can impact emotions. This helps children gain emotional maturity, empathy and compassion, as well as understanding of their own emotions and triggers.

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