How do I encourage my child?

Is there anything more embarrassing than your child throwing an ear-shattering tantrum in the middle of an otherwise quiet café? If you’ve not been subjected to this yet, then you’ll definitely have witnessed it. This is a perfectly natural part of a child learning to regulate their emotions, all be it, in a very public arena! I’m hoping that this blog post will help you to understand what to expect from your child as they are developing their emotional skills, reassure you that what you’re experiencing happens to everyone and give you some tips about how to support your child and tackle those dreaded tantrums.

Check out this link to see typical emotional development milestones: Emotional Development Milestones. Remember again, that every child develops at a different pace and that your child may develop these skills at a different rate to the ‘typical’ child development model. If you are concerned that your child is not developing at a pace similar to that in the link, you can always speak to your childcare provider or GP for further support.

I think it’s important to give you some ideas about what you could be doing to help support your child’s emotional development at different ages. Here you go:

Birth to 11 Months:

  • Cuddle your baby.

  • Respond to their cries and babbles in a supportive, comforting way.

  • Hold your baby close while feeding.

  • Consistency is key – however you choose to comfort your baby make sure that you are consistent.

  • Name feelings when talking with your child. “Look how happy you are!” When they’re smiling etc.

8 to 20 Months:

  • Set fair and consistent rules. Say ‘no’ in a calm, quiet voice.

  • Maintain your routines so your child knows what to expect.

  • Encourage your child to try new things and be curious.

16 – 36 Months:

  • Be calm and comforting after tantrums or outbursts.

  • Keep up with that consistency. Reliable rules will make your life so much easier.

  • Keep using feeling words when talking to your child. Help them to recognise how they feel.

  • PRAISE! PRAISE! PRAISE!

30-50 Months:

  • Help your child to share and play with others. Model good sharing and turn-taking! Board games work fabulously for this.

  • Show them that they can trust the special adults around them.

  • Help them to show their feelings in more appropriate ways. Model to them what to do if you’re upset or angry.

40+ Months

  • Pay attention when your child is speaking to you. Show them you value what they say.

  • Say positive things to your child – tell them how clever they are, how hard they are trying, how kind they are etc.

  • Be consistent… again! Just keep doing this!

  • Answer all their questions. Yes, I know there are SO many questions!

  • Keep modelling the behaviour you want your child to show.

Helpful Hints

A quick note about tantrums… especially public ones!

Make sure you bend down to be at your child’s level when you are speaking to them. Can you imagine how daunting it would be to have a full-sized human towering over you if you’re only small?

Use a calm and level voice, no matter how much you are screaming on the inside. I know this is easier said than done, but if your volume increases then so will your little angel’s and nobody needs that!

Compromise is key! Make them feel as though they have ‘won’ by giving them two options. One would be an undesirable option to them and the other would be the option you want them to choose.

If all of the above fail… wait it out. I know this isn’t ideal, but they will run out of steam eventually.

Finally, comfort them when the tantrum is finished. They are clearly struggling with how they are feeling at that time and need your support.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I hope you have found it helpful and informative. Please know that other people are going through the exact same thing as you are. I want to leave you with my two main tips.

  1. Set consistent rules and stick to them.

  2. Model the behaviour you want your child to show.

If you follow these two rules, you can’t be going far wrong.

Stay tuned for the next blog post in this series, where I’ll be talking about Language Rich Environments.

Read the other blogs in this series:

  • How Do I Help My Child Develop Social Skills? – Here.

  • Language-Rich Environments – Here.

  • How Can I Help My Child’s Physical Development? – Here.

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