Responding to Your Child's Feelings

Tip 1

Name Their Feelings

When your child is having “big feelings,” you can help them name the feeling. You can ask questions to help understand the feelings. Show them you are excited they shared their feelings so they will continue to share with you.

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Name That Feeling

Kids have lots of feelings, but they may not know it is okay to have them.  It helps to let them know it’s okay to have feelings and help them manage them.  For example, you can say, “You must be feeling mad because we are leaving the park…”  Then let them know it is okay to be mad sometimes.

Tip 2

Listen and Repeat

Your child may or may not be talking yet. For those who aren’t talking, pay attention and say out loud what you think they may feel. For kids who are talking and use words, listen closely to them and show that you respect their wants and thoughts.

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Repeat Repeat Repeat

If your child is excited, listen to what they tell you and repeat back what they said to show that you are listening and understand.  For example, you hear them say, “Truck, truck!!!” and you say, “Yes, I see a big, yellow truck!”

Tip 3

Comfort your Child

When your child is having “big feelings,” show that you care. Touching, holding, comforting, rocking, or singing helps your child know they are special and loved. Comforting a child when they are upset lets them know it’s ok to show feelings.

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Soothe Singing

Sometimes your child is so worked up that they seem out of control.  A good way to bring them back to a “good place” is by singing a favorite song and inviting them to sing along, dance, or snuggle with you.

Tip 4

Safe Space

After a child has told you their feelings, take time to let them know it’s ok to have those feelings. Ask if there is anything else they want to tell you.

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Support Space

When your child is upset, think about providing “space” to calm them down, maybe a hug, or a kiss.  Let them know you love them no matter what.

Tip 5

Don’t Jump to Fix the Problem

As parents, we hate to see our kids upset. Our reaction is to fix it and get them feeling happy again. Emotions are a part of life, so it’s important to let them know that all emotions are okay.

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Smell the Roses

Support your child in calming down.  Ask them to take a deep breath when they are having “big feelings.” Tell your child to pretend they are smelling a flower and then pretend to blow out birthday candles to help them calm down. They may still feel upset, but it may not be so overwhelming.

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Palbot says:

How you respond to your child’s feelings makes a difference.