Picture this


Many children, especially young little people, benefit from pictures to help them understand what emotion they have or the emotion others are having. If your child is younger or struggles with the demands of language, try drawing pictures to communicate something important to them. For example, the other day I explained to a 3 year-old that her screaming, throwing things and stomping her feet made me think she was very angry and mad. I reflected the same angry face to her to have her understand I was “getting her.” In addition to teaching her the words of angry, mad, frustrated, etc., I drew a picture so that if she couldn’t come up with the words, she could just show the picture to her parents or teacher. There are dozens of resources for helping children identify emotions and express them (two places to start include the Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation at Georgetown University and the Center for Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) at Vanderbilt – don’t let the poorly chosen stock image on the front cover of this document scare you!). But when you don’t have time to search through existing resources, just have your child draw how they feel. Or, grab some play-doh and mash out that anger. The message to get across is all feelings are OK and that your child is still loved and lovable with all those feelings, even anger. But, the behaviors associated with the anger (kicking, screaming, etc.) are not OK.