Tools for Handling Emotions

By Adventurers

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In case there are any families out there that are having some down time over the end of year holidays, we thought it would be a nice time to talk about one of our favourite books on managing relationships with young children. It’s How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen: a survival guide to life with children ages 2 – 7. It’s a fantastic book that’s got lots of practical suggestions for dealing with things ranging from emotions, cooperation, conflict, food and sibling rivalry. Today, we thought we’d discuss their tips on handling emotions.

The Educators at Adventurers Wyndham Vale see children with so many different personalities that they need to have a range of tools available. One of our favourite strategies for dealing with big emotions is acknowledging those feelings. When we acknowledge feelings, it makes it much easier for children to manage those than if we accidently ‘deny’ them or contradict them. This can happen when we say things like: “don’t worry that the toy was broken, you didn’t really like it”.

Here are four tools that we’ve found have been useful for acknowledging emotions.


  1. Acknowledge Feelings with Words

When we acknowledge feelings with words, we empathise with our children and put ourselves on the same side as them. This helps them feel understood. For example:

  • “You were really looking forward to going to the pool with your friend. How disappointing!”
  • “It can be so frustrating when we can’t find the right pieces of the puzzle that go together”


  1. Acknowledge Feelings with Writing

You don’t just have to acknowledge feelings with words, you can also do it with writing. For example:

  • “Oh no! We don’t have the ingredients we need! Let’s make a shopping list!
  • “You really want that underwater Lego set! Let’s write it down on your wish list so we don’t forget”


  1. Acknowledge Feelings with Art

Sometimes, drawing can be a great way to illustrate how we feel. For example:

  • You could say “you seem so sad” as you draw a stick figure with big tears, or even just hand over a crayon or pencil.
  • “You are this angry” as you draw angry lines or rip and crumple paper.


  1. Give in Fantasy What You Cannot Give in Reality

Sometimes, the fact that we show that we’d like to do something is enough for our children to feel understood. For example:

  • “I wish we had a million more hours to play”.

When we acknowledge emotions, children feel understood. It’s much easier for everyone – young or old – to accept limits when they feel understood.


Tools for Engaging Cooperation

Sometimes, it can be hard to get children to cooperate! Getting children to get dressed each morning or getting them in the car can be some of the hardest things!

The educators in our Wyndham Vale and Point Cook centres have used some of the techniques ins How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen: a survival guide to life with children ages 2 – 7, with great success. While we can’t cover the whole book, here are a few of our favourite suggestions:


  1. Be Playful

While it can sometimes be hard work, making things fun for children can be the best way to have a more cooperative environment.

Make it a game

  • “Let’s have a race and see who can pick up more things. Ready… set… go!”

Make inanimate objects talk

  • “I’m an empty sock. I need a foot in me!”

Use silly voices

  • “I… am… your… robot… must… buckle… seat… belt… now”


  • “We need to climb the slippery mountain into the car seat”

Pretend not to know

  • “Oh know. Where does this sleave go? Over your head? No? On your arm? This is so confusing!”


  1. Offer a Choice
  • “Do you want to hop to the bath like a rabbit or crawl like a crab?”


  1. Put Your Child in Charge


  • “Could you set the timer and let us know when it’s time to leave”

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