The Medical Wellness Center at the University of Miami defines Emotional Wellness as striving to meet emotional needs constructively. It is the ability to respond resiliently to emotional states and the flow of life events. It is realistically dealing with a variety of situations and learning how your behaviors, thoughts, and feelings affect one another and your decisions. It is taking responsibility for your own behavior and responding to challenges as opportunities. An emotionally well person is self-aware and self-accepting while continuing to develop as a person. Emotional wellness is the ability to form interdependent relationships based on mutual commitment, trust, honesty, and respect.
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Emotions can be difficult for children with autism. Here are some tips for helping your child develop emotional wellness.
♫ Tune in – help your child identify emotions. Play or sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands” with your child and ask, how does your face show you’re happy? You can change the verses, to include other emotions, like angry, sad, scared, or surprised. Help them make the facial expressions that go with each emotion and model with your own facial expression. See if they can identify your emotions based on your facial expression.
♫ Tune up – play an instrument in a happy way, a sad way, an angry way, or a scared way. Talk to your child about how each emotion sounds and see if they can match it with their playing. Use this as an opportunity to talk about what to do when they feel this way.
♫ Tune out – See if your child can identify emotions expressed by characters in a book or on TV. Help her identify the body language that communicates how a person is feeling. Use social stories or songs to help your child understand how to empathize or support a friend who feels happy, sad, or angry.