When kids say distressing things

When they are feeling out of sorts kids will say anything to try and express how they feel. This can come across as ‘I hate you’ or ‘I hate myself’. Such phrases cut to the heart of all parents and will trigger strong responses from us.

How can we help them to see themselves as the wonderful human beings they are?

1. Label the things they try hard at. They don’t need lots of stickers or rewards but to know their attempts have been noticed. ‘That’s great I like that you come off your tablet/let your sister have a turn/tried some peas. These need to be frequent but don’t need to be accompanied by big celebrations.

Children are exposed to negative messages about themselves all the time and we should try to put in at least 5 positive messages for every negative one! Hard work but worth a try!

2. Give children an emotional vocabulary. They use the phrases they know as they might not know other ways to express complex feelings. Boys are notoriously bad at not using words to say how they feel and particularly benefit from hearing feelings vocabulary from a young age.

Put an emotion word on the fridge and as a family try and notice when you are feeling that emotion. Also helping to see that emotions link to other things such as tiredness can also help children to see why adults are so bad at being consistent e.g. I get grumpy when I’m really tired!

3. Children gain confidence and learn through success. Research has shown that younger children (up to 10/11) learn best through their successes. The more they are able to achieve the more they will work at it. This is through play as well as any other activity your child may do.

As the adult you don’t need to win. When playing games with kids and joining in with their play you can let them take the lead. They can explain what to do and how to play. This doesn’t mean that children should never lose but if you top up their positive feelings with winning first they make much better losers! They should still win much more then lose though. Other settings give them lots of experience of what it is like to find things hard so home is a great place to develop their confidence.

Have a go at some of these confidence building activities for your kids and notice how both them and you are feeling!

Come along to our September seminars in Harrogate this year. To explore further strategies and the research behind them! More info at www.enrichingparenting.co.uk

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