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Managing Feelings

Lots of preschool children will still struggle with their feelings at times. It may be when they are tired, poorly or facing changes in their lives. This is normal and your child will need your help and reassurance that everything will be OK. You can help them understand their different emotions and how to manage them. You can help your child make sense of this by;

  •  Take any chance to talk about how other people feel and act. You could talk about TV programmes, the people you see out and about or things your child tells you have happened at nursery. 
  •  Pretend play with you, and their toys, will give them a chance to act out different feelings. 
  •  When you talk with your child use words to describe the feelings you see in them and others; cross, worried, happy, excited, scared.

  • Everyone has heard of the ‘terrible twos’ when most parents expect outbursts and tantrums. This often changes as children grow and are less frustrated because they have more language and physical skills. However it takes children a long time to handle their emotions in a safe and healthy way.

    • Help your child understand that all feelings are allowed. The important thing is we show them in a healthy way. For example 'You can tell your brother you are upset and cross that he scribbled on your picture, but you can’t shout and hit them.'
    • Be a role model. If you shout, and ‘lose it’ when you are cross or frustrated your child might too. If this is a problem for you – now might be the time to get help?  *Click Here* for more information.
    • If your child has a meltdown talk it through when they are calm again. Talk about how they felt and how their behaviour made others feel. Help them think how they could manage it differently another time.

    Don’t forget to spend time talking to your child and praising them when you see them managing their feelings well! Think about;

    • What helped them cope?
    • How did their good behaviour make others feel?
    • How did they feel?
  • Small children can have a lot of worries. Children this age;

    • Have very busy imaginations – so can have worries about ‘monsters’ or the dark.
    • Are facing a lot of new experiences.
    • Are starting to do things without you there.
    • Are very tuned in to things happening in the family; like arguments or people being poorly.

    Just like adults some children find things easier to cope with than others. Your child may not be able to explain their feelings but you might notice it by how they behave;

    • Being clingy or seeming more ‘babyish’.
    • Not settling at night.
    • Avoiding things or places.
    • Having more tantrums.

    Talk to your child about what you have noticed and help them think what might be causing it. You might be able to guess if you know that they are facing changes, or have had some hard experiences. When your child feels worried or scared about something it might not seem a big deal to you. Encourage them to tell you about it. By showing you take how they feel seriously they are more likely to carry on talking to you as they get older. You can think up ways to cope together.

    You can help your child by explaining that being worried is normal and everyone feels that way sometimes;

    • Explain that even if you feel worried you can ask for help and give things a go.
    • Remind them of a time when they did something they worried about; like when they managed to go on  the big swings.
    • Come up with solutions together – like leaving a landing light or night light on if they feel scared of the dark or, standing with a teacher if they feel worried at playtime.
    • Praise your child for trying things even if they don’t quite manage it.

Who Can Help?

Remember all children are different but if you are worried speak to your child's nursery or preschool setting, they will be happy to talk to you about how best to support your child. If your child is not at nursery, or you are still worried, contact Just One Number to talk to a health professional for advice and support.

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of the Healthy Child Programme team.

Alternatively you can go to see your GP to discuss concerns.

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below.



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