By Christianna Mullins, MA/CCC-SLP
What happens when a child has difficult expressing his or her thoughts, ideas, wants, and needs with language? Frustration. Children with speech and language disorders may not be able to express their feelings with words, but they will find a way to let those around them know how they are doing. This may look like tantrums in young children. It may look like withdrawal in older children. No matter what the behavior is, the underlying issue is important to identify in order to help the child and those around the child.
What may be reasons that the child is unable to express his or her emotions appropriately?
The child's speech may be so hard to understand that other people cannot clearly comprehend what he or she is saying. When asked "what" 2 or 3 times, the child may shut down or begin crying.
The child may not have the grammatical structure to put together a phrase or sentence to adequately express feelings. A limited vocabulary may not include emotion words yet, such as "sad," "hungry," or "sleepy."
Some children have difficulty communicating verbally. They may have even more difficulty communicating when they are stressed or emotionally upset.
The child may not comprehend the question "How are you feeling?"
The child may not have the social abilities to appropriately explain his or her thoughts and feelings in an expected way, and may simply scream when ramped up, rather than calmly explaining the need.
Teaching Emotion Vocabulary