People often talk about the “terrible two’s” and the “threenager year” and how difficult it is to parent a child going through these stages, what they don’t think about is how difficult it is for a child to be going through it themselves.
These little people are big enough to understand what is going on around them and are expected to be able to deal with their emotions and opinions as an adult would, try and remember they are only little and need some time to learn and help doing so.
The best way to help a child learn how to express their emotions and understand feelings is through play: Playing with dough, drawing and painting pictures, dressing up, playing with dolls can encourage creativity, imagination and expression of feelings and games help with taking turns, sharing and mixing with other children.
An important part of childhood is feeling safe at home in order to be able to express their feelings and emotions without fear of being disciplined and having somewhere to retreat to when they need comfort. The Cofi Coo Quillows are great, they are a blanket which can be used as a playmat or folded away into a cushion to save space. Children can use them as part of their play or can cuddle up under them when they are tired or over-stimulated and have some quiet time. Every child needs a comforter and this one can be used in so many different ways. Cofi Coo are well known for their values of the importance of pretend play, imagination and fun learning.
My favourite part of a young child’s development is when they learn Empathy. A friend is hurt or sad so they go over to comfort them, it is so sweet to watch a child understand and try and comfort another. This is such an important part of learning about friendships and leads on to understanding what upsets others and how to build and develop relationships which last.
Older children are still going through emotional development as well and continue to need their parents help to manage their feelings and help them through difficult situations. My eldest daughter is 8 and her friendships are much more complicated. She has lately been having trouble with a “mean girl” at school; who wants to be best friends one minute but turns around and is mean the next. Unfortunately, when they are being best friends the “mean girl” encourages my daughter to be mean to her other friends, so when they are not being “best buddies” any longer my daughter doesn’t have anyone to turn to.
I have spoken to my daughter about this “frenemie” and she recognises that it is not right: she doesn’t like it when she is the one being teased and excluded, but still joins in when the others do it to a different girl. I try to get my daughter to see it from others points of view and I think the message is getting through, we have discussed it and I think she sees she doesn’t want an on-off friendship like this when she has other friends who are nice to her all the time. I have bought my daughter a “worry eater” in which she writes notes and puts them in the little creatures mouth (to “eat” the worries”, I can then read what is worrying her and we can talk about it at a later date.
Even as an adult I still need someone else’s opinion or input on a difficult situation, I turn to my Mum, my Sister, the Husband or the Best friend. Your children should see that even you need advice sometimes and it is OK to get support from others, friendship is important and children learn by watching how Mummy and Daddy interact with others, show them a positive example.
*This is a co-operative post with Cofi Coo, but all words and opinions are my own.