Family Support Blog #12

Helping your child to deal with their emotions

I’m sure those of us with older children remember joking about their future: “If she’s got an attitude of a teenager now, how am I going to handle her when she’s actually a teenager?” Her emotions appeared bigger than she was, far too big for her tiny body. I believed she would be able to handle them better when she was older!

Unfortunately, it is not that easy, although we probably wish it was. The older our children grow, so do their feelings. Let’s not forget the pitfalls of puberty, friendship drama, and children who are desperately trying to be adults, and we as parents have a minefield of feelings to navigate.

At times you might sometimes wish you can go back in time to the simplicity of toddler tantrums, but we must instead forge new ground as we walk alongside our children. Emotions can be difficult for children.

Why it’s Important for your child to understand their emotions:

One thing that’s a certainty of parenting is that your children will experience all sorts of emotions (sometimes all in one day!) and will often face circumstances they don’t like. Helping your child to grow emotionally involves teaching them to recognize certain emotional responses in themselves and then to express those feelings appropriately.

Children who develop skills in this area will be able to relate better to others, manage his or her behaviour, and cope with situations of all kinds. It can also be a great benefit to your parent-child relationship, as your child grows in his capacity to explain his disappointments or frustrations with words, rather than acting out.

As parents, we can’t protect our children from all the ups and downs of life. What we can do is teach them to navigate those experiences in a way that develops their personal character as well as preserves and enhances the relationships in their lives.

Here are some ways to help your child handle their emotions:

  1. Give feelings a label.

Name feelings with your child at a young age, use basic terms such as sad, mad/angry and happy. As your child gets older those basic terms will become more specific and refined, such as frustrated, anxious, disappointed or annoyed. Recognising and naming feelings is essential to learning how to cope with them.

  1. Identify the trigger.

Reassure your child and identify what led to them feeling this way. It could have been something said by a friend or another child, when you said “No” to something she asked to do or something or something said or done by a sibling.

  1. Give the go ahead to the right to talk it out.

Let your child know that everyone experiences these emotions at times and that there’s a right and a wrong way to express them. Explain to your child that they may not be able to help how they are feeling, but they can and should control how they express that feeling. It is important that your child learns to take responsibility for their words and reactions, no matter what the situation.

  1. Teach coping skills.

It can be helpful if you teach your child to learn to remove herself from a situation or take some time out to think and calm down before responding. For younger children you can teach them to count to 1o before reacting.

  1. Try not to fix everything.

As a parent we want to teach our children to learn to work through the problem, not to remove the problem. It is important to help children work through the problem, because as they get older, you’ll be less able to manipulate the world around your children and insulate them from a situation. Good parenting is helping them to learn positive ways of handling whatever they encounter with emotional maturity and integrity.

  1. Give emotional support.

Most of the time all our children need is a hug and acknowledgment that we are aware of how they feel. When your child is dealing with something, keep the standards of behaviour high, but show lots of affection and support to help them along. Acknowledge and tell them how proud you are of them when they are handling their emotions with increasing maturity and reacting appropriately.


If your child has always been emotional, there’s probably no cause for concern. But, if they suddenly seem to have more trouble managing emotions, talk to your Doctor.

Our Family Support Team are here to offer support and advice and are running workshops in your school throughout the year so please get in touch if you would like more information contact are #hereforyou if you need advice, guidance or support – you can contact us via the contact information on our Team page.

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