“Use your words, sweetie” — sounds good, sure, but what if your kid doesn’t know the words for those big feelings they’re having? The first step to your child expressing their emotions (rather than just having a huge meltdown) is helping them figure out what their emotions are. Here’s how.

Talk about emotions.

Share your own feelings, from “I’m so happy to see you!” to “I’m really frustrated that we still haven’t found a parking space!” And talk about others’, whether it’s “Look, Morgan has a big smile on her face. I bet she’s excited that you’re letting her borrow your scooter!” or “How do you think the bears felt when they came back and saw that someone had been eating their porridge?”

Ask how their feelings feel.

Learning to associate their bodies’ reactions with emotions helps kids get in touch with their feelings. Quiz your kid on what they might be feeling if their heart is beating fast, their eyebrows are scrunched up or they’re shaking all over.

Notice and label their emotions as they happen.

Next time you see your child experiencing a strong feeling, whether sadness, love or impatience, narrate the emotion for them. (“You’re slumping in your seat — it looks like you’re really disappointed about losing your lucky ball. Is that right?”)

Normalize feelings.

Let your child know that having big feelings is okay. For example, if your kid is really nervous about summer camp, you might say, “You know, a lot of kids get butterflies in their tummies before the first day. That happened to me when I was little too!”

Play a game.

Play feelings charades — take turns acting out and guessing different emotions — or put on a finger puppet show with your kid and ask them to tell you what the puppets are feeling. Q’s Race to the Top can also help your kid learn to figure out and manage their emotions.

Next: Help your child work on their emotional skills without even realizing it — watch Q Wunder videos, play games and sing and dance along to original music in the Emotions neighborhood on the Q Wunder app!