In this blog post we talk about how we as parents can help our child communicate their feelings using the emotion poster.


My son was really upset, I could tell. He said things I knew he didn’t really mean. Even though I knew that I still felt powerless in the moment.


Behind angry words, there are strong emotions and important needs. Strong emotions can not wait.



I slowly approached him. Waited, paused, counted to ten, took a couple of deep breaths to regain some energy. I waited for him to calm down a bit. Then, I confirmed his strong emotions and normalized his reaction. “You seem very upset right now! It is very normal to be angry (sad, upset). It is our body responding, to keep us safe when we feel threatened.”

“Are you willing to share with me, what happened?” I turned to the emotion poster on our kitchen wall. “Do you want to look at what it is you are feeling right now?”


When we choose to focus on the emotions, we may find an opportunity to support our children and understand what they feel. 

I started pointing at a couple of the emotion emojis. First I pointed at the moody/irritated and then at angry/furious emotion emoji. “It seems that you may be either very annoyed with something, or perhaps you are very angry or disappointed with something or someone?”

When we see our child experiencing an emotion, we can help them to label it “in the moment”, to help her/him to express it more clearly. 

  1. Normalize and confirm them to feel safe/create safety 
  2. Focus on the emotions to support the child 
  3. Help the child to label the emotion

When first making the child feel safe, and then focus on their emotions, instead of their reactions, we create a safe space to explore what triggered their emotion. A big part of building emotional skills is being able to spot feelings.

When the child feels safe, they can start opening up and share, and we can ask more open questions “What happened next?” How did that make you feel?” This way we are gaining more information to understand the child’s reaction. By helping them spot and label the feeling, we may support them with tools to be able to handle strong emotions in a more constructive way next time.

In short, we as parents are often tempted to fix things by making our child feel ok again. In these times one of the best things we can do is slow down and help the child understand his/her emotions. By doing so, we are helping the child to use their understanding of their own emotions to recognize what they are feeling – and why – and this helps them to become strong and resilient people. 


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