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How to talk to your child about their feelings

This year its been all too easy to get frustrated, particularly for children who are having to cope with huge changes to their usual routines. As founder of Mindful Kids, Ciaran Ivanovic helps children to focus their minds, find inner calm and use simple, effective exercises to better cope with life's demands. As a follow up to her earlier posts on helping with tantrums and creating a calm corner, Ciaran has made a new short video sharing her advice on how to get your child to talk about their feeling, which you can view below. And following that we have three top tips on the Why, the How, and the What of this very important aspect of caring for your little ones.

1 Why is it important to talk to your child about feelings and emotions?

Putting names to feelings is a great way to help develop a sense of self-awareness early on. Helping children understand why different situations make them feel a certain way, makes it easier for them to deal with their emotions. Having that familiarity and understanding of our emotions and reactions helps develop a greater sense of empathy for others too.

2 How do you talk to your little ones about feelings and emotions?

It’s important to give examples of yourself when explaining emotions and feelings to your child as it normalises those emotions/feelings, which is a positive thing. For example: I feel really loved when you give me a hug. Keeping it reciprocal and relatable is important. Sharing how you feel and/or have felt is so powerful and can really encourage them to open up. Switching the perspective can help too as they seem to sometimes find it easier to recognise emotions or behaviours in others, either through actions or expressions, which can also help further develop that sense of empathy. By asking questions you can also give them opportunities to express themselves: ‘How do you feel when…’

3 What to do when you know something is bothering them but they won’t open up?

Create a space between you and your little one that is honest and sincere and give your undivided attention so you can listen to them without any distractions (no phones, make eye contact etc). If you want to create your own calm corner, Ciaran talks you through how in this easy video guide .

Recommended books for parents and children

Sitting Like a Frog by Eline Snel

Glad to be Dan by Jo Howarth & Jude Lennon

Today I feel Silly by Jamie Lee Curtis

Glad Monster, Sad Monster by Ed Emberley and Anne Miranda

All About Feelings by Felicity Brooks and Frankie Allen

All these books can be ordered at your local bookshops directly or via the brilliant new bookshop hub, Bookshop.org


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