You can talk to your child even if they are really young. Children can generally explain how they feel quite well using short sentences. Talking is good for their language development. Even at a young age, you can teach your child to talk about their feelings. They will tell you how they feel and which questions they have. It is also nice for your child to see you are interested in how they feel.
Talk about feelings with your child
Generally, young children still need to learn how to deal with their feelings. They can get very angry about something very small. As a parent, you should try to spot the difference between your child’s feelings and behaviour. Make sure you point this out. You could say, for example, “It’s okay to be angry, but no hitting. Because you can hurt someone if you hit them.”
Do you name your child’s feelings? If you do, they will feel much more understood. They will also learn to recognise their own feelings. If you also tell your child they should not hit anyone, you set clear boundaries.
Talk about your thoughts and actions
Your child learns from you. If you talk about your own feelings, your child will learn it is a normal thing to do. Tell them when you are very happy about something, for example. Every once in a while, it’s also okay to tell them you had a bad day. Or that you’re upset because something didn’t work out. There is no need to share any details, but show your child it’s normal to talk about your feelings.
It’s also nice for your child to know what you are up to, even if it’s something simple, like household chores. It will show your child why you do things, and how to listen to others. While you are hanging the washing, for example, you could say, “I’m hanging the washing because these clothes are wet and they need to dry. I’m using pegs to make sure they don’t fall on the floor”.
Choose a good time
It can be helpful to choose a good moment to talk to your child, for example:
- while walking home from school;
- while eating dinner together;
- while relaxing on the sofa afterwards;
- while sitting on the bed before bed time.
Some children are more talkative when they’re busy doing something, so try to figure out what works best for your child.