A Parent's Guide to Navigating Emotions

Navigating the emotional landscape of your kiddos can be trickier than climbing Mount Everest in thongs. We get it! That’s why we’re here to help you unravel the secret map called Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions. Imagine this wheel as a magical emotional compass guiding you through the wilderness of parenting.

Wheel of emotions for kids

Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions -This visual flower with its vibrant petals is going to be your go-to guide.

What on Earth is Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions?

As you see in the image, picture a flower with colourful petals. Each petal represents a basic emotion that every person, including your bundle of joy, experiences. The flower's core houses the intense versions of these emotions, while the tips show milder shades. It's like a rollercoaster, sometimes we’re in the thrilling loops and sometimes on the calm straight tracks.

There are eight main emotions in this flower:

  1. Joy - Yay! It's ice cream o’clock! This is the bubbly, sunshiney feeling your little one has when they’re super happy. It’s the infectious giggle, the jumping up and down, and the “best day ever” moments!
  2. Trust - That warm, fuzzy feeling when they believe in you. It's when your child shares their favourite toy or tells you a secret that can make you feel special. It is like you are the Keeper of the Sacred Treasure.
  3. Fear - Spooky closet monsters, anyone? Fear is the goosebumps and the hiding-behind-the-couch moments. It's important because it keeps them safe from real dangers, but sometimes they need a hero (you) to chase away imaginary monsters.
  4. Surprise - “Oh my gosh, a puppy!” It’s the wide-eyed, jaw-dropping moments when something unexpected happens. Surprise can be joyous like a surprise party or startling like a jack-in-the-box.
  5. Sadness - When the ice cream falls off the cone. 😢 The teardrops, the sniffles, and the needing-a-hug moments. It’s when they feel like a little raincloud is following them around.
  6. Disgust - “Ewww! Broccoli!” This is the “no way, no how” face they make when something doesn't agree with their senses. Disgust helps them to avoid things that might be harmful or just not pleasant.
  7. Anger - Hulk mode. This is when the inner volcano erupts because they didn’t get what they wanted, or someone was mean. It’s the steam-from-the-ears and stomping-feet time.
  8. Anticipation - Christmas Eve jitters. This is the “I can’t wait!” feeling. It's the night-before-birthday, looking-out-the-window-for-friends moments. Anticipation is the excitement and sometimes the impatience of looking forward to something.

These emotions are like the colours of the inner rainbow. Each one is essential for the journey of growing up. This journey is an adventure.

And guess what? As their guide, you get to be right by their side through all the ice cream highs and broccoli lows!

Why Should I Care?

We all know the saying "Knowledge is power." Understanding your child's emotions is like having a superpower. You become the emotions-whisperer! This can help your kiddo grow into a well-rounded person who can express themselves effectively.

Now, let’s put on our superhero capes and see what this means in action:

  1. Building Emotional Intelligence: By understanding your child's emotions, you can teach them to recognize and label their feelings. This emotional literacy is like giving them a secret codebook to navigate social interactions and relationships.
  2. The Empathy Enhancer: When you comprehend what your child is feeling, you naturally develop empathy. This empathy isn’t just a one-way street. As your child sees you responding to their emotions with understanding, they learn to be empathetic towards others. Empathy is like the ultimate superhero tool for making friends and building bonds.
  3. Confidence Booster Pack: Knowing that someone understands them gives children a sense of security and belonging. This boosts their self-esteem and confidence. They’ll feel ready to conquer new challenges because they know they have a supportive ally.
  4. Crisis Shield Activation: Children don’t always know how to deal with intense emotions. Your superpower of understanding can be a shield during emotional storms. Help them find ways to calm down or express themselves constructively. You are teaching them skills that can be a strong protection against life's challenges.
  5. Future Pathway Illumination: As your children grow, the emotional tools and understanding you’ve provided will help them make better choices. They will be more considerate in their relationships and more effective in communicating their needs and aspirations.
  6. Strengthening the Parent-Child Bond: Lastly, understanding your child’s emotions strengthens the bond between you two. It's like a super glue that keeps your hearts connected. Through the roller-coaster of growing up, this bond is your ultimate superpower.

A Guiding Compass for Everyday Parenting

Small Kids (4-8)

The Land of Make-Believe: Kids this age have emotions bigger than their dreams of being astronauts or princesses. They can swing from joy to sadness in the blink of an eye.

Engage Their Imagination: Play along in their world. Help them name their emotions by creating stories. “Mr Angry is stomping his feet because he lost his toy.” Use the wheel’s image to show them Mr Angry in the centre.

Pre-teens (9-12)

The Emotional Detective Phase: Pre-teens are like little detectives, piecing together how their emotions work.

Be Their Trusty Sidekick: Encourage them to talk about their emotions. Create an ‘Emotions Journal’. Let them scribble or draw what they feel. Use the image to help them identify the combination of emotions they might be experiencing.

Teenagers (13-17)

The Rollercoaster Realm: Teenagers often have the emotional volume turned up to 11.

Be The Safety Harness: This is when they need to know they’re loved unconditionally. Encourage open communication without judgment. Get them to look at the wheel and discuss how complex emotions might be at play.

Super Moves for Parents:

  1. The Hug Shield: Sometimes, a hug is all they need.
  2. The Magic Mirror: Reflect their emotions. “You look sad. Want to talk about it?”
  3. The Pause Button: Give them space when needed, but stay close.
  4. The Time-travel Goggles: Share stories of when you felt similar emotions as a kid.

Remember, parents, you're the brave guides in your child's emotional jungle. Equip yourself with Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions, and you’ll be ready to face wild emotional weather together! Use the colourful wheel as a constant reference to make this journey fun and enlightening.

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