Emotional development of a child is as important as physical development and for this to happen, a child should be able to express his feelings. Parents should be open minded and encourage the child to talk freely about how he feels and no feeling should be taboo. In this way a child will not hide what he feels and parents can gauge the mental set up of their child.
Emotions start affecting the child even when he/she is in the womb. The foetus reacts by kicking or being restless according to whether the mother is happy or sad. Often a doctor tells the mother to remain cheerful and tension free, as the joys and sorrows of the mother have an impact on the unborn child. Once the child is born, talking to him should begin as early as possible, and it does, so a foundation is laid for communication between the child and parents.
At about one and half years of age as the child starts playing with toys, he attributes certain feelings to them such as happiness or loneliness. This is the correct time to initiate discussion on these feelings and ask the child what he feels when these thoughts creep into his mind. Play acting with his toys, the parents can get the child to talk about his inner most feelings and are then ready to shape their child’s thought process and make him mentally strong to face the upcoming challenges.
Help a child to describe what he is feeling by asking questions about how he is feeling and help him to put it in words. The parent could say that it seems from his eyes or posture that he is feeling unwanted or good for nothing. This will help the child open up and he will begin to talk. Of course, good feelings such as excitement about a birthday party or participation in a school play should also be discussed. All children will love to talk about these experiences.
Be a good listener when talking to your child. After due prodding let the child do the bulk of the talking. At appropriate times, share your own experiences when you were down in the dumps or on top of the world, so the child will know that all these feelings are normal and everybody goes through them. The parent could talk about the time he did not fare well in a test and how he dealt with that or a happier reminiscence about when he won a prize and what he felt then.
The child will be emotionally equipped with the tools to handle whatever life throws at him and will always be ready to share his thoughts with his parents even when grown up.