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Week of Love... Let's talk about emotions

Updated: Feb 15, 2020

Welcome to Out Loud Developmental Services! We are excited to be launching our blog where we'll post on a variety of topics that we think might be interesting to the people who use our service.

With the launch coinciding with Valentine's Day, it seemed like a great start to talk about emotions.

One researcher (Elisabeth Kubler-Ross) suggested that all emotions come from two places. The positive emotions such as happiness, contentment and joy are all linked back to love. The negative emotions such as anger, guilt and hate relate to fear.

In the 1970s, Paul Eckman identified six primary emotions - happiness, sadness, disgust, fear, surprise, and anger. Eckman felt these emotions can be combined to create other emotions (ie, happiness + trust = love).

A more recent study in 2017 expanded the list to 27 categories of emotions - which we experience along a continuum (from mild to extreme). This study suggested that all emotions are linked to experiences and expressed through language.

When we look at all the words we use in a day, we know there are lots of descriptive words for how we are feeling, facial expressions that convey our emotions and body language that adds to the message. Our clients often find it difficult to understand and/or express these emotions accurately. This can lead to issues with behaviour, social relationships and self worth.

When learning language, children will first learn about things they can see (people, objects), locations (places) and social words (greetings, manners). They next learn about things that change and move such as actions or are context dependent such as describing words (colours, concepts, size).

As they grow and their vocabulary expands, children will add in more abstract words and these will include emotions. Thinking and feeling words relate to what is going on in someone's mind. It can be difficult to understand your own feelings, and even more difficult to interpret other people's feelings. You can't always clearly see an emotion, the intensity of an emotion can be different depending on the person or circumstance and feelings often cross through different categories.

Hanen, an organisation that provides knowledge and training for language, learning and literacy skills, has a great information sheet on their website for talking about 'thinking and feeling' words. You can see the full article by clicking here.

To help children learn about thinking and feeling words, they suggest:

- Talk aloud about your child's thoughts and feelings during play and routines starting with basic needs/likes when they are very little and expanding to talking about what we think and know as they develop their vocabulary and understanding of the world around them.

ie, yum, you like eating strawberries!

- Talk aloud about your own feelings. Tell your child how you are feeling during activities and why the activity made you feel that way. This will help your child to understand that other people may have different emotions to their own - which is an important step in their emotional development!

ie, my favourite fruit is bananas

- Use books for further opportunities to discuss thoughts & feelings. While reading storybooks, use the thoughts and feelings experienced by the characters as a chance to talk about what others are thinking, and what they are feeling.

ie, look at his face, he's so excited to see his friend

It's important to use a range of emotion words and teach children more than just happy or sad. Emotions are complex and we cope best when we have the vocabulary to understand and express the full range of emotions.

In a world full of action & reaction, there's lots of chances for us to talk about what we are thinking and how we are feeling. All of these opportunities build up to create layers of understanding about the complex world of emotion.

The Out Loud team hopes you have a weekend filled with lots of positive emotions - love, joy, happiness, excitement, serenity and gratitude.


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