1. Help your child understand different kinds of feelings
By talking about feelings in everyday conversation children can come to understand more about feelings in themselves and feelings experienced by other people. Age appropriate story books such as the “When I’m Feeling…” books by Trace Moroney available from Books for Young Minds can also help young children understand basic feelings.
2. Acknowledge your child’s feelings in simple terms, before attempting to problem solve
A child’s need to be heard and understood can often outweigh their ability to focus on the details of what may be the problem. Use your body language to show that you are listening and try your best to avoid interrupting or interjecting. Be mindful of your eye contact and position of your body whilst they speak, to demonstrate that you are present and attentive.
3. Encourage meaningful conversations about feelings
Your child needs to know that all feelings are okay and that they can be expressed in a healthy way. You can encourage more meaningful conversations about feelings by asking more open ended questions about what may have caused your child to feel a particular way. These conversations can help you and your child come up with a solution for now or for next time.
4. It can be all about the timing
Sometimes we just might not be ready to talk about our feelings – yet. Try giving your child some space where appropriate. This may allow them the opportunity to find a way to calm down themselves first before coming to you for physical or verbal support. Your child may also need some time and space to figure out the best way to problem solve themselves.
5. Monitor your own wellbeing
People of all ages can feel overwhelmed from time to time. Children learn to recognise your usual way of responding to your own feelings, which is built up over lots of interactions. Monitor your own emotional wellbeing and reach out for support when you need it.
Each of the books in this series has been carefully designed to help children better understand their feelings, and in doing so, gain greater autonomy over their lives. Talking about feelings teaches children that it is normal to feel sad, or angry, or scared at times. With greater tolerance of painful feelings, children become free to enjoy their world, to feel secure in their abilities, and to be happy.