by Lauren Fallat, LPC LPAT ATR-BC
Children are constantly in a process of learning and growing, and during their early years, emotional development is critical. Children have an amazing ability to feel emotions intensely. This can be a wonderful thing, but it also means that they can find it difficult to verbalize their feelings. It's common for children to feel overwhelmed by their emotions, and to not know how to express them.
For a child, emotions can be overwhelming and confusing. In order to help children learn how to verbalize their emotions, it is important to understand why it is difficult for them to do so.
There are a few reasons why it can be difficult for children to process their emotions verbally. One of the main reasons why it is difficult for children to verbally process their emotions is because their brains are still developing. In fact, verbal processing of emotions is not typically mastered until around age 10 or 11. The part of the brain that is responsible for emoting, called the limbic system, is not fully developed until around the age of 25. This means that young children often do not have the ability to think logically about their feelings and express them in a coherent way.
One reason is that children are often not aware of what they are feeling. They may not be able to identify the emotion they are experiencing, or they may not be able to put a name to it. Another reason why children find it difficult to verbally process their emotions is that they may not have the words to express what they are feeling. Children may not know how to describe an emotion in words, or they may not know the right words to use.
Based on what is known about brain development, it is believed that children may not have the cognitive or language skills to accurately identify and describe how they're feeling. They may not be able to identify the emotion they are experiencing, or they may not be able to put a name to it. Another reason why children find it difficult to verbally process their emotions is that they may not have the words to express what they are feeling. Children may not know how to describe an emotion in words, or they may not know the right words to use.
They may also not understand why they're feeling a certain way, or what caused the emotion. It can be confusing to experience a physical sensation or internal urge and not fully comprehend where that initiated from. It is also possible that children may be afraid of how others will react if they express their feelings. This fear may impact how safe a child feels opening up and disclosing emotional information.
If your child is having difficulty verbalizing their emotions, it's important to provide a safe and supportive environment for them to express themselves. Try to avoid judgment and criticism, and instead focus on listening and understanding.
This lack of ability to verbalize emotions can have a lot of negative consequences for children. When children are unable to process or express their emotions in a healthy way, they may act out, become withdrawn or engage in self-destructive behaviors. This can be very frustrating for parents and caregivers. This inability to communicate verbally about emotional content can also lead to children potentially feeling overwhelmed or misunderstood.
In addition, this lack of ability to identify emotions can make it difficult for them to understand and regulate their own emotions. This can lead to problems such as anxiety, depression, and aggression. Additionally, children who find it difficult to verbalize their emotions may have trouble forming relationships with others and communicating effectively.
In our next blog post, we will explore more in depth how art therapy can be an effective modality for working with children and helping them to express their emotions in a safe and supportive way.
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