Children often struggle to recognise what they are feeling, let alone sharing what they feel. Parents often experience their child’s resistance to share as negative behaviour. It also leaves parents with a feeling of anxiety as they never know when their child is struggling emotionally. Children need a supportive space to share their feelings and calming parents to listen and empathize. The following will help to build an emotionally safe home for your children.
- Listen first: talk secondly
Even children are the best judges of their own feelings. Do not interrupt your child by telling them how they are feeling. Try listening and providing physical comfort until they calm down. More than often will attentive listening be enough.
- Avoid squashing emotions
Do not distract your child from their feelings. When children are given the opportunity to express and work through their feelings, they learn how to cope with those feelings. Dismissed emotions can later surface as bigger problems.
- Don’t judge
By judging your children they may feel that they are the problem. Do not place blame on them to cope with a social blunder or other issues. Give your child the gift of empathy by working through the problem together.
- Express your own emotions
Do not hide your own emotions from your children. When parents talk about their emotions, they show their children that everyone has feelings to cope with. You can trust them just as they can trust you.
Creating an emotionally supportive home benefits the whole family. When families work together to work through big feelings, they build trust and understanding. This strengthens relationships and shows children that they have a safe place to seek help, no matter what.