Three ways to help your child talk about emotions

Child looking perplexed

This is such a strange time for all of us and a huge change for our little ones to deal with. So much is missing from children’s lives at the moment that of course there are frustrations, feelings of unfairness and much more. Lots of parents are busier than ever and likewise missing so much of life’s fun so it’s easy for us all to bottle up our miserable feelings and show them by getting cross with each other.

However, just a few minutes of focused parent/child time can make a big difference though to how children feel.  Now and again, take a short break from work, house stuff and general distractions and totally focus on your child. Ten minutes of real ‘togetherness’ turbo charges both of you.

Here are some ideas for how to help your child talk about feelings:

  1. Go somewhere outside where there is lots of space and things that you can throw. We are near the beach at the moment so the stones there are perfect. Take it in turns to pick up a stone or two and hurl them - each time throw it as far as you can and shout loudly either something that annoys you, or something positive that you are grateful for or looking forward to. Just anything that comes into your mind. We spent 5 minutes shouting “Can’t travel anywhere!” “The dogs are so beautiful and happy,” “All the interesting little shops nearby are shut,” etc. I think we both felt better afterwards and it also led on to a nice chat about how my youngster is really excited about doing up his bedroom. 
  2. Immerse yourself in whatever ‘small world’ game your child likes playing.  Take an interest in the characters and encourage your child to think about how the character is feeling “Oh no, there’s been a robbery at the florist has there?  Was it scary for the people who work there? How are they feeling now? What’s the main thing that they are worried about?
  3. Bathtime is a great time to really listen to your child. Maybe you can ‘interview’ each other - take it in turns to ask each other questions - about all sorts of things like favourite animal etc but also include ‘How are you feeling?’  questions. Use a cylindrical bottle as a fake microphone and in your answers model how to be honest about feelings. E.g. “How are you feeling at the moment Mummy?” “I’m happy to be with my lovely family and relieved that we are all healthy but I am fed up that every day is so similar…”
Building in conversations about emotions to everyday life helps us all to be mentally stronger.

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