We are born with emotions. What we are not born with is the language to describe those emotions.
Emotions are not “good” or “bad.” They just are. Of course some emotions feel better than others but (if you’ll remember from the movie Inside Out) they are all important to our well-being.
From the moment your infant begins to display an emotion, begin giving her the words to associate with the feeling. Say things like, “You sound frustrated” or “It looks like you are excited about your new toy.” Even though these words may not mean anything to them right now, when they do learn to talk, they will have language to communicate their feelings.
If our children have language to describe what’s going on inside, it can help during times of conflict. We found that if our children had words to use, they did not need to hit or push to express themselves. And once they had a word for it, then we could talk about what to do with the emotion.
Even more importantly, they were able to identify for themselves how they feel. Sometimes as adults, we may not be able to quantify how we are feeling – especially if we have not learned the word for that feeling. It can make it difficult to respond appropriately to a situation or in a relationship, but knowing how we feel helps us to respond instead of react.