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How to encourage dd4 to open up about her (negative) feelings?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
There is a bit of turmoil in my house right now and my dds have had some unavoidable exposure to it. My 4yo is obviously feeling it but hasn't said much. For example, yesterday she teared up and said - "I do not know why I am SO sad......" I let her know she could always tell me anything she wanted to and explained that sometimes people feel better when they tell someone who loves them how they are feeling. I don't want to lead her by asking if she upset about anything specific.

I'm getting the feeling that her default might be to bury her bad feelings and I want to help her.

Anyone have experience with this?
post #2 of 7
Could you maybe buy her a special drawing pad, and encourage her to draw pictures of what she's feeling? Maybe she'd be willing to talk to you about her pictures then to talk about her actual feelings?
post #3 of 7
Could it be a vocabulary issue?
post #4 of 7
I have totally btdt. Our oldest daughter, age 5, has a fantastic vocabulary, but seems to really be lacking the ability to articulate her emotions--instead she seems to displace them by saying she hates people or acts out. We actually saw a child psych about it who said it was emotional disregulation/emotional immaturity & that we needed to support her in articulating her emotions. We try all kinds of things....getting her to tell stories, dictate letters, draw pictures. Nothing's worked perfectly. We do find that some books designed for kids on the spectrum that work to label emotions & identify them have been really helpful for her, even though she isn't on the spectrum as far as we can tell--if you talk to her about being sad, and what it feels like in her body and what makes you sad etc.

But it's hard work and we often find it difficult ((((hugs)))
post #5 of 7
Will she play with stuffed animals or do role play?

Our 9 year old is terrible about talking about his feelings. He always has been. I'm not sure he's ever said "I love you." The closest he's come is "I really really like you." (I pity his poor life partner, should he have one.)

BUT, ds will act out all of his emotions and things he's processing with his stuffed animals. They lead very interesting lives. And it's enough distance from himself that he can process the emotion while not being directly threatened by it.

Sometimes he'll play role playing games too -- all during 1st grade he would come home and we'd play 'school'. We'd act out each and everything he did during the day, with him being the teacher and us being the students. (We did have to set a few limits such as we were not going to spend exactly as many minutes playing school as he actually did in school. He got over that pretty quickly because his lesson plans weren't detailed enough to go 6 hours. (And yes, he did write out lesson plans.)) But this was a great way for him to process school.

Now that he's older he's playing with power and relationships. One of the favorite games is 'president' where one of the kids is president, someone else is vice president, someone else is the body guard, and other roles are distributed in various ways (president's daughter, secretary of education...)

Really, he's his own best therapist, and I think many kids can be if you watch what they do to process things and encourage those.
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the food for thought. proudmamanow, do you have a specific book rec?
post #7 of 7
We have an easel with a chalk board. DD will go and make "big angry scribbles" and has done for a while now. It definitely took modelling (as in me going and scribbling while talking out loud about what I was doing).

We also talk about wiping away the angry when she is done. I think the chalk has worked better than drawing for DD as it's temporary. She is (and always has been) a perfectionist in her drawing. They are permanent to her and she does not like to commit to paper till she knows exactly what she wants to draw.
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