Dr. David's 4 steps:
- Feel it.
Don't try to push away your child's negative emotions, but validate them.
- Show It.
Directed against rules about hiding some emotions, like "Boys don't cry."
- Label It.
Enable children to name or otherwise identify emotions (the older they get, the more you can talk about it.)
- Watch It Go.
Teaching them that emotions also pass.
This is what sadness feels like. This is what it feels like after it passes. This is what I did that helped it pass.
(Source: Dell'Antonia, Teaching Your Child Emotional Agility, The New York Times, 2016.10.04)
The next advice is from the Victoria State Government page on Emotional intelligence:
- Identifying feelings
Younger children can point to drawn faces showing emotions, older children can be asked
You look a bit upset. Is that how you are feeling?” or “I wonder if you are feeling angry about that. What do you think?”.
- Calming down
Parents can help children to do this by learning to rate their level of upset from 0 (nothing) to 10 (out of control) and to then start to talk (at a time when they are NOT angry) about ways to help them to calm down.
But note that this may differ greatly between children.
- Reading other people's emotions
Suggesting guessing games, e. g.
“What do you think that person is feeling?”, ‘What sort of day do you think that person has had?”, or “What mood do you think that person is in?”
They also suggest to help them learn reading facial expressions by having them look at photos.
- Predicting other people’s actions
They suggest freezing the DVD and let the child guess what a character will do next.
The NYAEC suggests the following strategies to regulate emotions (though they rather speak of 3-8 year olds):
- Taking deep breaths
- Engaging in private self-talk (e.g., “I know I can do this!”)
- Reframing negative interactions (e.g., “She is having a hard day. No
wonder she reacted that way.”)
- Stepping back and allowing physical distance (e.g., taking a short
walk at lunch time)
- Seeking social support (e.g., talking to a friend and making plans to
spend time together)
Again for somewhat older children, there is an interesting handout (Enhancing Emotional Vocabulary in Young Children by Gail E. Joseph, CSEFEL) with examples of emotional vocabulary and who also states:
Note first that the foundational element, the necessary context, for emotional literacy development is a supportive, caring relationship.
Even though this is mostly for older children, your child is not too young to label some emotions:
Children's abilities to label emotional expressions start developing from as early as 2 years of age (Izard and Harris, 1995; Denham, 1998). Bretherton and Beeghly interviewed mothers of 28 month old children about their vocabulary, and found that over 60% of the children were familiar with the emotional terms happy, scared, and mad (i.e., angry), and were able to use them in their language.
(Baron-Cohen S, Golan O, Wheelwright S, Granader Y, Hill J. Emotion word comprehension from 4 to 16 years old: a developmental survey. Front Evol Neurosci. 2010;2:109. Published 2010 Nov 25. doi:10.3389/fnevo.2010.00109)