Lisa Feldman Barret in her book, “How Emotions are Made,” discusses the importance of emotional granulation or the ability to finely separate or nuance our emotions. She describes how it is important to move beyond I feel “happy” or I feel “crummy.” By granulating our emotions anger turns out to be frustration, antagonism, irritation, hurt, low self-worth, shame, etc., or happy includes content, pleased, joyful, cheerful or blissful. Barrett argues that by expanding and using a greater emotional vocabulary, we can more finely “granulate” or feel the nuance of each of emotion. This naming and noticing emotion is the bases for managing our emotions. Barrett offers that finely granulating the nuance of each emotion makes you an emotion expert, or “emotion sommelier.” This skill grants your brain more options to deal with emotion more efficiently and in turn better tailor behaviour to the situation.
For children, it can be helpful to create an “emotion cheat sheet” that they can refer to when big emotions get in the way. Children love emojis and can even draw their own. Try to have them learn new words and expand their emotional vocabulary.