Children’s feelings come in all shapes and sizes. Look for signs that children are struggling with big feelings like stress, fear, shame, anger, sadness, and frustration:
- Sudden yelling or crying
- Difficulty sleeping
- Unusual clinging
- Eating more or eating less than usual
- Smiling or laughing less often
- Having new fears
- Bed wetting
Help children to open up about their feelings by:
- Reminding them that all feelings are okay
- Sharing some of your own feelings with them
- Naming the emotions (“It looks like you might be feeling sad/scared/lonely…”)
It can be difficult for children to talk about feelings in the middle of a challenging moment. Try these strategies:
- Ask kids to stop what they are doing, put their hands on their tummies, and slowly take three deep breaths.
- Pause to blow up a “calm-down balloon.” Hand them a pretend balloon and ask them to “fill” it with big breaths. Then they can pretend to “release” it into the air.
- Ask them to take a break to smell a pretend a birthday cake and blow out the candles. This will help them with calming breaths in through the nose, out through the mouth. Try it together!