Emotions can be complicated! Especially when they start all mixing together.

I have found with our son that he picked up on English, conversationally, within a few months of immersion.  I have also found during the past years since then, that there is more to expressing yourself than just conversational language.  The language of interpreting and articulating your emotions is much different and seemingly, takes years to become fluent in. Heck, I’m not sure I am fluent in expressing my feelings!  Now throw in the mix a few more variables…


What if you were:

#1–a 5 year old boy,

#2– it had only been a year and a half since anyone cared that you had feelings, and

#3– no words come to mind when you do want to articulate how you feel to someone…let alone what has stimulated those emotions.


Our son can get visibly troubled, cluing us in to some of his emotions. We know when something is going on inside. Whether he is overtly upset or just totally zoned out, he gives physical clues for us. It could be from some circumstance happening around him, a consequence incurred from disobedience, or often, some inner stirring that has been triggered by something much deeper inside than my husband or I can dig to.

If we try to unpack it, “Bud, what are you feeling? What is making you cry?” or, when his mind has visibly left the building so to speak, “Where are you, man? What are you thinking about?”  The most likely response from him is wide eyes and shaking his head back and forth. One time, we felt so good when he was able to say, “I don’t feel treated very well.” Wow! We still think back on that and say, “Remember that time he told us…” However, that ability to express has only happened a small handful of times.

In trying to help him have the words to use, we made a tool together yesterday.  We drew a list of all of the feelings we could think of that people can have.  This morning I found this chart online and have hung it up in our home.

Now, when he is upset I can say, “Go to the feelings chart and show me what you are feeling.”  Some of the pressure of finding the right words to say is now relieved and he can focus more on where the emotions are stemming from.  I don’t know, but I feel good about this.

What have you used to help your children express themselves?

I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes. Away from me, all you who do evil, for the LORD has heard my weeping. The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer.

Psalm 6:6-9

Thank you, God, that you hear and understand every pain in every depth when no one else does.