January’s “Tip of the Month” Is: Name Feelings
This month encourages educators and parents to name and talk about feelings. Emotions can often feel very powerful and overwhelming, especially for children. The more we can identify feelings, both our own and those of the children in our care, the more we can start to manage those feelings. When we narrate our emotional experience, we access the logic part of our brains which helps us shift from just reacting to thinking along with feeling. This creates a more balanced, integrated experience where both sides of our brain work together.
In turn, this builds our awareness and understanding of our feelings, which also increases our capacity to handle them. In addition, when others acknowledge our feelings, we feel seen, heard, and valued. It builds connection, makes us feel less alone, and gives us a chance to calm through co-regulation. So, practice identifying and narrating your feelings and the feelings of the little ones around you. If you feel uncertain about children’s specific emotions, you can say, “I see you’re upset because…” or “It seems like you’re having strong/big feelings because…”. You can use this type of visual to remind you to name feelings. It includes faces that can help children begin to label and understand different emotions.
Pay attention and notice what changes in yourself and the children around you as you identify and narrate feelings. What happens with big feelings once you name and explain them? How does this impact your interactions and connections? See if feelings seem tamer when you talk about them!
Written by Sam Savin LCSW, JCC Chicago Social Services Manager