I was recently having a conversation with some parents, and the topic of supporting your children came up. As we discussed it, I realized that not all parents support their children emotionally in the same way. Some parents give their kids a lot of emotional support, while others have no idea about the topic!
So, do you support your child emotionally? If yes, you are doing very well; keep up! If not, or you don’t know, here are some tips to help you support your child emotionally.
Talk with your child about emotions frequently
When talking about emotions, it’s important to be consistent. Whether at home, out in public, or spending time with family and friends, take advantage of opportunities to talk about emotions with your child. This will help them to understand and label their feelings and ultimately develop better emotional regulation skills.
When your child is happy, sad, angry, or afraid, you may consider taking a moment to talk about what they’re feeling. Explain why they might feel that way, and offer some coping strategies. For example, if your child is feeling angry, you could suggest taking some deep breaths or going for a walk. Over time, your child will learn how to deal with their emotions in a healthy way.
Validate their feelings
Listen to your child’s feelings without judgment and validate them. Listening carefully can solve half of all unsolved problems.
Consider engaging your children with conversations about emotions when reading a book together, playing games, or even doing everyday activities like getting dressed or packing lunch.
You can help your child develop healthy coping skills and build a solid emotional foundation by listening and talking openly about emotions. For instance, if your child is sad, you might say something like, “I’m sorry you’re feeling sad. Tell me more about what happened.”
Read stories to them to build an emotional vocabulary
When children are young, they’re still learning about the world and how to express themselves. One way you can help them is by reading stories together. This allows them to see how other people react to different situations and learn new words to describe their emotions.
For example, if your child is frustrated, you can help them identify that feeling by reading a book about a character struggling with something similar. In addition to building emotional vocabulary, reading stories together is also a great way to bond and have some quality time together.
Let them know that everyone has a private, mental world
It’s easy for adults to forget that children are still learning about the world and how it works. A crucial part of growing up is understanding that everyone has private thoughts and feelings – something that’s not always obvious to kids.
If you want to help your child develop this vital distinction, there are a few things you can do. First, point out when people are thinking or feeling something different than what they express outwardly. For example, you could say, “Aunty Jane looks angry, but she’s actually happy to see us.”
Second, encourage your child to talk about times when they’ve had private thoughts or feelings, and emphasize that it’s okay to keep some things to yourself. Finally, model this behaviour by sharing your thoughts and feelings with your child – it will show them that it’s safe to do the same.
With a little guidance, your child will soon learn that everyone has their inner mental world – a realization that will help them navigate the social landscape more maturely.
Help them understand that human emotions are dynamic
It’s normal for kids to feel a wide range of emotions. One minute they may be happy, and the next, they may be sad or angry. That’s because emotions are constantly changing, just like the weather. Just as the sun can come out after a storm, so can our mood improve after we’ve had a negative emotion!
Helping your child understand this can be a valuable tool in managing their emotions. When they’re feeling down, remind them that the feeling won’t last forever and that they’ll soon feel better. This doesn’t mean that their emotions aren’t valid, but it can help them to see that everything is temporary and that they have the power to change their emotional state.
Teaching your child about the transient nature of emotions can help them better cope with life’s ups and downs.