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Help your child to manage their feelings

All children respond differently to things like needing sleep, being hungry, being too hot or cold, being handled by someone and being uncomfortable. Some will be calmer and others will be more agitated and need more help from you.

You're the best person to help your child deal with their feelings. You can do this by watching and listening to your child, to pick up on their cues.

Understanding their feelings

As they become toddlers, children learn ways to soothe themselves. They could do this by:

  • sucking a thumb
  • cuddling a teddy
  • holding a favourite blanket

Your toddler or young child will still need your help to cope with their intense feelings. You can help by:

  • comforting your child when they seem uncertain
  • asking yourself what your child is feeling right now - are they annoyed, frightened, frustrated or sad?
  • putting your child's intentions into words ("You wanted to keep playing but we had to leave. You’re sad we had to leave.")

Your child will get the message that you hear them and know they're upset. They'll learn that your hugs make them feel better, your voice is calming and shows you're near, your smile means everything will be OK.

These everyday dramas allow you and your child to learn ways to manage their big feelings. Over time, your child will:

  • know how to make themselves feel better when they're upset
  • learn that adults are reliable and will look after them
  • trust other people who take care of them, such as at pre-school

Page last reviewed: 20/11/2018
Next review due: 20/11/2021