I Feel???

“How do you feel, honey?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, are you sad?”

“No.”

“Are you mad?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, you seem like you are.”

“Oh.”

What parent hasn’t suffered through a conversation like that one? We all have because when children are young they struggle to know what it is they are feeling. With a little help though, they can begin to identify their emotions and then take the next step and talk about them. But this is an ability that needs to be nurtured in order to grow. It doesn’t just sprout up on its own.

If you think about it for a minute, you’ll know what we’re talking about. Many adults never really got the hang of it. Just think about all the people you know who rely on swear words to describe how they feel when they lose their wallet or spill their latte!

With that in mind, we were delighted to find a wonderful book that opens the door to discussing emotions with kids. It’s called The Way I Feel and is written for children ages 2 to 8. The book is beautifully illustrated and  a great resource to have on hand and to explore with your little guys. We bet that both you and your kids will find it helpful and interesting.

We hope that you recognize and appreciate the importance of picture-story books in shaping a child’s imagination and vocabulary, despite the recent trend to skip them and go directly to chapter books. Although it may seem like the chapter books will help their reading skills to develop faster, we would strongly disagree with that assumption.

There’s a lot more going on when you sit down to pour over a picture story book with your child. Nothing can replace the interactive potential and opportunity for conversation that reading a book with pictures offers. The language and vocabulary used is often more sophisticated and nuanced than in the chapter books and young kids have the chance to ask questions, develop their memory and build on the story that is presented. Many skills develop spontaneously when children are exposed to picture story books.

So, keep making those trips to the book store or library and bring home all the new ones as well as the classics like Good Dog Carl (no words at all), Good Night Moon and the many, many more that are available. And save the chapter books for a bit later. What’s the rush?

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.


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