Thursday, April 3, 2003

Ways To Help Children With Their Feelings

Developed by Honore M. Hughes, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology, University of Arkansas

1. Children show their distress and anxiety by being extra sensitive, by withdrawing or by acting out. Give the child extra support, encouragement and patience when she/he is under stress.

2. Be sensitive to the feelings that a child is communicating nonverbally as well as verbally.

3. Help children learn to talk about their feelings rather than acting them out, and learn to solve problems verbally rather than physically through modeling better ways to handle situations.

4. Model talking about feelings by expressing your own feelings and commenting on the child's emotions. Example: "I feel sad sometimes when I argue with my friends, etc. Maybe you do sometimes, too."

5. Young children need help in learning to label their feelings. This helps them tap into emotions, identify them more accurately which will make them better able to deal with them. Example: To a young child, "I think maybe you're crying because you're very tired." Or "I know you're crying because Joan took away your ball so you are unhappy."

6. Help children learn what they can do to calm themselves down when they're upset. Example: sometimes a little time alone is helpful to an older child.

7. Reassure a child that all children have feelings in certain situations. Example: Sometimes kids get scared; that's O.K. It's frustrating and you're mad when something doesn't work."

8. Children are sometimes better able to respond to a comment rather than a direct question about what's wrong. Example: "Gee, you seem a little upset. Maybe you're thinking about your mommy."

9. It's helpful sometimes to comment to a child about feelings in the context of a lot of children having those feelings. Example: Most kids feel sad or scared when their mommy and daddy fight."

10. Help children OWN their feelings. Example: You feel angry", rather than "He MAKES you angry".

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