Encouraging Open Communication with Your Children
Written by Aiesha Hemeda
Sometimes young children may not know how to properly express their emotions or communicate them to you. For younger children, more complex emotions such as frustration, anxiety, or sadness– may be harder for them to understand.
As a parent or guardian, it is important that your child feels comfortable communicating with you about important or serious matters. Creating an environment that enforces open communication with your child can teach them to properly express their feelings, which can aid in relieving factors of anxiety or stress. It is also important to inform your child about appropriately expressing their feelings as this can be essential in reducing any potential dangers they may face.
Recognizing Signs of Stress in Children
Signs of stress in children can manifest themselves in numerous ways, if you notice any negative changes in your child, then this may be a sign of an underlying issue. Sources show that there are some common signs that your child may be in distress.
Behavioral / Emotional
- Outbursts or tantrums
- Biting or hitting
- Change in behavior
- Negative change in grades
- Getting in trouble at school
- Withdrawal from friends or family
- Decrease or increase of appetite
- Stomach pain
What can cause stress for children & how to help:
There are many factors that can cause stress in your child’s life. Some of these factors may involve a change or disruption in routine or environment. Your child may feel stress about relationships involving friends, peers, or bullies at school. Your child may also worry about money, or they may have issues with self-esteem. Consistency is important for children so it can be helpful to develop a routine and notify them of any changes in their routine. Helping your child to be able to balance things such as school, homework and extracurricular activities can also be effective in preventing stress in their lives. Most importantly, letting your child know that they have a support system to help them deal with any challenges they face can reassure them to seek help when needed.
Ways to help your child express their feelings:
There are different methods which can be effective in helping your child to better understand and express their feelings. It can be frustrating for parents when your child is unable to properly convey their emotions. In order to help your child be successful, it is important that you also practice healthy methods, and allow yourself time to relax to alleviate any feelings of frustration or anxiety that you may be feeling. Below are some methods that may be effective for your child:
- Modeling appropriate communication. Modeling how your child should appropriately communicate is the easiest way to set an example. Making sure that you are using the proper words to describe your feelings can be effective in teaching them how to express themselves. This can be especially useful for feelings that younger children may find more difficult to communicate such as sadness or anger.
- Enforcing a healthy environment. Creating a safe environment ensures that your child feels comfortable in their surroundings. Sources state that creating nurturing and safe relationships and environments are essential in preventing “early adversity, including child abuse and neglect, and to ensure that all children reach their full potential”. Enforcing that your child can always talk to you when they need to will help establish open communication and build trust.
- Educational tools. There are various educational outlets that can help convey expression of feelings to your child. These tools can be a fun way to bond and teach your child how to deal with overwhelming emotions. Some examples of these tools are:
- Educational books
- Educational shows
- Children’s songs
- Teaching healthy coping mechanisms. Teaching your child positive methods for coping with their frustrations is a useful tool that can determine how they deal with their feelings later on in life. Some of these methods might consist of meditation or breathing, drawing, or jumping jacks. These methods may be effective in providing your child with an outlet to channel their energy.