Talking with your child about emotions

Modern family life for many is a busy juggling act, but having to combine a modern family life with a chronic illness can lead to various challenges and complications. As a parent of a child, seeing your child struggle with any issue is extremely difficult and your natural instinct is to try to fix the problem. When your child suffers from a chronic illness parents can often feel helpless, frustrated and upset – but there are tools that can help you to help your child.

Research shows that when small children are thought to manage their feelings they become better problem solvers and are confident and better able to engage in learning tasks. An ability to manage our feeling as we become older is also associated with an increased ability to deal with stressful life situations and a higher level of self-esteem.

When faced with a long life condition – the whole family experience different challenges and emotions associated with the condition but it is also an opportunity to build resilience and an increased level of emotional intelligence and awareness. There are some practical steps to help navigate this with your child:

Feel, Understand and Talk About It. We all feel emotions, but we often push away negative emotions – ‘I don’t want to see you sad’, ‘it’s not nice when you are angry’. These are common things we might say to children and it is most certainly a natural reaction. We, particularly parents, do not like to see the child sad or angry, but helping your child understand that it is alright to feel a different range of emotions at different times is important and will benefit them far into adulthood. Encouraging your child to talk about why they are feeling sad, angry, frustrated etc can help them to understand their feelings and situation but also to explain to you what it is that makes them feel a particular way, which will open the door for conversation and understanding for both the child and the parent.



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