So often parents struggle to know how to connect with their children about feelings and emotions, but it is important that all young people know how to communicate their moods and manage stress and anxiety. It is a well-known fact that children who thrive in their emotional and social development have parents who respond positively to the behaviour of the children.
Covid 19 and everything that has surrounded it has given us plenty of opportunity to talk about what we are frightened of and how we can support each other without fears and worries but so often we shy away from this type of discussion because it makes us or the other person uncomfortable.
By acknowledging our children’s feelings, they feel safer and are more likely to open about things that are worrying them, a skill that will help them handle life’s challenges as they get older.
Research shows that children who learn about their feelings and emotions are more likely to feel calmer and learn to self-regulate / have fewer sick days and form stronger relationships with other people.
Practice talking with children about their feelings and offer them strategies for coping with emotionally difficult situations.
How do we do this?
- To support your child, you need to start observing, listening, and learning how your child expresses different feelings and emotions.
- Watch for changes in their facial expression, body language, posture, and tone of voice.
- Set a good example by talking about feelings and emotions to help children build a vocabulary of different feelings.
- Encourage children to talk about their feelings and emotions.
2. Connect with your child:
- You can use emotional moments as opportunities to connect with your child, if you see something sad on TV or whilst you are out and about talk to them about it, don’t rush to change the channel or turn away.
- Allow your child to have their feelings without dismissing, disapproving, or avoiding.
- All feelings are okay, but not all behaviour is okay.
3. Listen and tune-in to your child:
- Your child will feel more secure when they can express their feelings.
- Life is busy, but it is important that you take time to just breathe and take in the world
- Tune-in to the feelings underneath your child’s behaviour. Often children are naughty because they want attention, recognise this, and see if something is bothering them or they want reassurance about something
- Take 5 long slow breaths to help you feel calm. Do not react too quickly to their demands, listen to what they are saying, understand that for them it could be important.
- Check what is going on for you. Has your child’s behaviour touched a nerve for you? Has it made you feel frustrated? Angry? Scared? Helpless?
4. Name your child’s feelings out loud:
- Your child will feel more secure when their feelings are heard.
- Naming emotions helps to soothe and regulate your child’s brain.
- Ask, rather than telling, them how they are feeling. If they are not sure, offer suggestions for them to consider.
5. Set limits and problem solve together:
- You can allow all your child’s feelings while still setting clear limits on behaviour.
- Corrections should only be put in place when feelings have been acknowledged and when everyone is calm.
- Where possible involve your child in problem solving, especially as they get older.
- Think ahead about tricky and potentially overwhelming situations and be prepared to help your child through them.