5 Ways to Help your tweens understand and express their emotions

If you’re looking for how to help your tweens understand and express their emotions, you’re in the right place! The tween years can bring with them a flood of emotions like jealousy, embarrassment, and anger. Your tween is going through huge hormonal changes, starting to find their place within friendship groups, and experiencing a whole host of new emotions in the process. It’s no surprise that their mood is all over the place!


Right now, all your tween needs, is your support and understanding, as well as a little guidance in how to handle these big feelings. Let’s figure this out together!


In this post, we’re going to discuss a few different ways that you can offer comfort and counsel to your tween to help them understand and express their emotions.


Why do tweens experience such big emotions?


You might be pleased to know that the root cause of their emotions lies in brain development and changing hormones, and, as such, has very little (if not nothing) to do with you.


Whew. Take a breath. It feels good to learn that, right?!


How to help your tweens understand and express their emotions


Fortunately, there are lots of gentle parenting approaches that can help our tweens to understand and express their emotions. Take each approach and make it your own; turning it into a practice that works for both you and your child. Remember that some days, all they’ll need is time alone - and that’s ok!


1. Make space for the emotion


Although it can feel counterintuitive when absorbed into the midst of your tweens' range of emotions, the best thing that you can do is accept it and make room for the emotion. That’s right. You’ve got to give them the space to let it out. As well as that, you’ll want to make sure that you are validating their emotions - let them know that it’s ok to feel overwhelmed, angry, sad, embarrassed, and everything else that they might experience.


2. Suggest ways for them to let their emotions out


There are countless ways to let emotions out - and only one of which involves letting your wonderful tween yell at you and shut themselves in their room. You might like to encourage them to take up a new hobby such as running, playing an instrument, singing, or writing. Exercise, in particular, invites lots of space to process emotions.


3. Lead by example


Show your tween that you also experience big emotions. Whether you’re feeling sad, frustrated, embarrassed, impatient, or downright furious, get comfortable with talking to your tween about how you feel. Sure, it might feel a bit weird at first, but by showing them that you (the grown-up) also feel bad sometimes, their emotions will be less scary.


4. Teach them breathing techniques


Pranayama (or controlled breathing) is a wonderful way to calm the nervous system and, as a result, encourage relaxation. Focusing on the breath can bring us away from the overwhelm that we’re experiencing in the mind, making it a great technique for emotional tweens! ‘Square breathing’ is an easy practice for beginners and is something that they can practice anytime, anywhere. Here’s how to practice it:


Breathe in for 4

Hold for 4

Breathe out for 4

Hold for 4


They can repeat this technique for as much or as little time as they need to.


5. Journaling


Journaling is an effective way to get thoughts out of our heads and onto paper. You might like to introduce this idea to your tween by suggesting that you spend a few minutes journaling together after breakfast or before dinner.


One of the most powerful ways to calm the mind through journaling is to set a timer for 3 minutes and write anything and everything that comes to mind. Even if it’s 3 minutes of repeatedly writing “I don’t know what to write”. Once you give your tween time to get into the habit of journaling, letting their thoughts and emotions out will get easier and easier.



The Takeaway


During the tween years, your child needs all the love and support that you have to offer. After all, it will be challenging for them to figure out how to understand and express their emotions by themselves. Your life experience is a vital tool in offering them guidance, validation, and empathy.


Do you have any tips for helping tweens to understand and express their emotions? We would love to know!

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