How to help children manage their feelings; a guide for carers
Young children’s feelings can often be quite intense and they can easily become overwhelmed by their feelings of joy, fear, excitement, frustration, sadness and happiness. They need adults in their life to help them understand and manage their emotions, and that’s where you come in as their carer. Here are a few ways you can help young children manage their feelings.
1] Firstly, it is necessary to recognise the importance of social and emotional development in young children and how your own emotions and the way you were guided or punished when you were a child affects how you respond to children whose behaviour is challenging.
“Recollections of past childhood experiences may include thoughts of how families allowed them to express emotions without criticism. Or upon reflection, those memories may be filled with teasing, name calling, threatening or physical punishment. When adults are able to acknowledge and validate their own feelings, they are in a better position to understand their interactions as they raise or care for children.” – Jacqueline Amor-Zitzelberger
2] Help children notice their feelings. You can do this by noticing them yourself and giving them labels; happy, sad, excited, frustrated, etc. Teaching children to pay attention to their feelings will help them understand they can have emotions without being controlled by them.
3] Talk about feelings with children. Talk about what it’s like to feel happy, sad, angry, nervous or excited and children will learn that this is one way they can express their emotions without necessarily having to act them out. By naming the emotions, children will learn to separate a feeling from a reaction. By being able to say or think ‘I feel frustrated’, they won’t need to act out being frustrated for someone to take notice.
Keep in mind that talking about difficult feelings is usually most beneficial after the feelings have calmed down a bit, and that compassion and empathy even during a meltdown or angry burst tends to support children through their feelings and bring them back to a place of calm.
The Wishing Well foundation
The Wishing Well was established in 2010 to offer children in out-of-home care, such as foster care and residential care, a range of healing and treatment options usually not accessible as a free therapy in mainstream health.
The Wishing Well raises funds to enable children and young people to access developmentally-appropriate and trauma-informed treatments shown to be highly effective in dealing with severe trauma and neglect. These therapies respond to the unique needs of each child and young person.
The Wishing Well is a not-for-profit incorporated charity organisation, established and managed by people seeking to improve outcomes for children and young people in out-of-home care and their families. The Wishing Well recognises the importance of the act of giving. We recognise the significance of the participation of community members and all donations are most appreciated.
The Wishing Well operates ethically, effectively and empathically with a view to achieving quality outcomes and a satisfying working environment.
Support the Wishing Well
The Wishing Well uses its funds to help children in need access all manners of developmentally-appropriate and trauma-informed treatments. The Wishing Well takes referrals for any child/young person in out-of-home care in NSW. Applications are assessed by qualified personnel and on a case-by-case basis. The decision to fund an application is affected by the following:
- Funding availability
- The support the child/young person has to access the proposed therapies
- The capacity and willingness of the Carer Household to support the child/young person
- Assessment, which recommends and supports the proposed therapy as relevant to meeting the particular needs of the child/young person
The Wishing Well gratefully receives donations, funding and resources through bequests, corporate partnerships, fundraising events, grants, online donations and other fund raising activities. Money donated to The Wishing Well enables traumatised children access to healing therapies. Please see our website for more information: