Emotional Care, Feelings

Attending To Your Child’s Feelings

Research demonstrates a direct link between emotions and academic ability, memory, friendships, family relationships, and more. The mutual relationship between emotions and learning compels parents, caregivers, and educators to attend to both equally.  In this toolkit, we offer suggestions for understanding your child’s feelings in order to provide emotional care.

Navigate Feelings 

Not all children are going to feel comfortable sharing their feelings. You might suggest your child write or draw how they are feeling or ask, “What do you think some kids your age may feel about a situation?” Schools should also be a powerful resource. Contact the teacher, counselor, or other school personnel to get their perspective on your child and to share ideas. Resources to support this area. Tiny Guides by Cultures of Dignity and the book Permission to Feel by Marc Brackett. 

Support Sharing

Seeing our children suffer is one of the most challenging moments for a parent. Strategies to support your child sharing what is bothering them might include: offer options, use one sentence, ask for multiple feelings (see expanded feelings list for download) and create check-ins. This video explores how to share support. 

Critical Steps

Here are the critical steps of speaking with and listening to your child in a way that makes them feel genuinely heard: 

  • Listen so you can repeat almost word for word what was said.
  • Hear so you can abbreviate or put it into our own stories and still share the meaning. 
  • Acknowledge the feelings of your child. (this is where emotions such as empathy enter.) 
  • Respond to share a plan, request time to think, offer to help, and ask more questions.  

Caring for the Caretaker

Parenting is a challenge, and these are difficult times. Parents are being asked to take on additional, and often, challenging roles. For many of us, taking care of ourselves is at the bottom of the list. However, for our own sake and to best support our child, taking care of ourselves becomes even more important. We can support ourselves in small ways (drink enough water, take a brief break, talk to a friend or family member) and in larger ways such as creating a self-care plan for you and/or for your child. (More on self care). 

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