Sometimes the toughest thing about feelings is sharing them with others. Sharing your feelings helps you when your feelings are good and when they aren't so good. Sharing also helps you to get closer to people you care about and who care about you. When people talk about feelings, they sometimes use the word "emotions."
Focusing on Your Feelings
You can't tell your friends what's inside your backpack if you don't know what's in there yourself. Feelings are the same way. Before you can share them with anyone, you have to figure out what feelings you have.
Making a list of your feelings can help. You can do this in your head or by writing it out on a piece of paper or even by drawing pictures. Is something bothering you? Does it make you sad or angry? Do you feel this emotion only once in a while or do you feel it a lot of the time?
When you're trying to figure out your feelings, it might help to remember something that happened and think about how it made you feel. Then you can say, "I feel sad when my friend doesn't play with me" or "I feel angry when my brother always wins at baseball." This can help you figure out your own feelings. It also gives the person you're talking with more information about what's bothering you.
Why Talk About Your Feelings?
The way a person feels inside is important. It can be really hard not to tell anyone that you're feeling sad, worried, or upset. Then, it's just you and these bad feelings. If you keep feelings locked inside, it can even make you feel sick!
But if you talk with someone who cares for you, like your mom or dad, you will almost always start to feel better. Now you're not all alone with your problems or worries. It doesn't mean your problems and worries disappear magically, but at least someone else knows what's bothering you and can help you find solutions.
Your mom and dad want to know if you have problems because they love you and they want to know what's happening in your life. But what if a kid doesn't want to talk with mom or dad? Then find another trusted adult, like a relative or a counselor at school. Maybe this person can help you talk with your mom and dad about your problem or concern.
How to Talk About Your Feelings
Once you know who you can talk with, you'll want to pick a time and place to talk. Does it need to be private, or can you talk with your brother and sister in the room? If you think you'll have trouble saying what's on your mind, write it down on a piece of paper. If the person doesn't understand what you mean right away, try explaining it a different way or give an example of what's concerning you. Is there something you think could be done to make things better? If so, say it.
Some kids - just like some adults - are more private than others. That means some people will feel more shy about sharing their feelings. A kid doesn't have to share every feeling he or she has, but it is important to share feelings when a kid needs help. You don't have to solve every problem on your own. Sometimes you need help. And if you do, talking about your feelings can be the first step toward getting it.
Reviewed by: Richard Kingsley, MD
Date reviewed: September 2007