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Parents Panel: Readers share their tips for helping young kids cope with worries

“I make sure my four year old knows I take his worries seriously. Even the silly ones.”

parents-panel-banner-final1.1 - Copy Source: TheJournal.ie

AS PART OF TheJournal.ie’s weekly Family Magazine, we wanted to create a space for parents to share their views. A place where mums and dads could share their experiences, lessons learned, and even mistakes along the way. 

Even everyday stress can be overwhelming for a young mind. Tackling worries with a young child takes time, care and effort, but it’s essential for building strong emotional intelligence and coping skills later on.

So how should you go about it – without putting your child under pressure? This week, we asked our panel:

What’s the best way to help young kids to cope with worries and stress?

Here’s what they had to say…

Parents Panel All 7 - Copy - Copy Top L-R: Olly Keegan, Alan Dooley, Denise, Ken Hyland. Middle L-R: Ríona Flood, Ross Boxshall, Marta Lisiecka, Denise Cumiskey. Bottom L-R: Kait Quinn, Susannah O’Brien, Derek McInerney, Suzie Kelly Source: TheJournal.ie

Sometimes a one-off chat isn’t enough. Be prepared to bring it up again 

With four kids ten and under, we know there is no magic to solving worries. You just have to listen to what they have to say, respond with loving and positive affirmations to address the issue and rebuild any loss of confidence. If they won’t open up, then it may take slightly longer and you just have to ask some questions to get the issue out, in a similar and positive tone. It mustn’t be a one off chat either, but a regular conversation until the issue is resolved. It’s fair to say that my wife is far better at this than I am…

- Ross Boxshall

Chat to them about their day while doing an activity together

Even at aged three Ellie has worries. Maybe somebody didn’t talk to her at playschool or she was upset that she didn’t get something that she wanted. We always sit down and talk about her day while doing an activity together, like a jigsaw or colouring. I find she opens up more that way then asking her straight out about something.

It is very important to keep open lines of communication as kids get older. I have always made it clear to my older ones, 17 and 22, that no matter how bad something may seem, they can come to me, that I will never judge and I will try to help them in anyway possible. Your child’s mental health is more important than anything else.

- Denise Cumiskey

shutterstock_619520693 Source: Shutterstock

Make sure to not dismiss any worries as ‘silly’ 

Our son is still quite young (4.5 years old), but we still make sure to speak to him about any worries. We make sure he can see we are taking them seriously and not just dismissing them.

He had a bad dream about a week ago and then started asking us if someone could come into the house to take him away. We assured him that we would never let that happen, and, on a practical level, the front door is locked and the alarm is on (he checked the door and alarm with us, just to be sure). We made sure to answer all his questions about it until he was satisfied with the answers.

I feel it’s important to let your child know that you will listen to them seriously, and not dismiss a worry just because you find it silly.

- Olly Keegan 

Share some of your own (age appropriate) experiences with them

When kids are younger it’s important to ask questions like, ‘What happy things happened today? What sad things happened?’ to get them to open up without feeling quizzed. That communication and how you deal with it when they are younger, hopefully creates a good basis in to the teenage years so they know they can trust you with their emotions.

As the kids have gotten older I’ve started to share my experiences with them, difficult situations in dealing with others, be it strangers or work colleagues. I describe how a situation made me feel and ask them their opinion, to open up thinking about seeing things from other people’s point of view, and to encourage them to share their thoughts.

- Trina Dooley

What’s the best rainy-day activity for young kids? We’re looking for your answers for a brand new feature in our Family Magazine! Join the conversation here or email your answer to family@thejournal.ie.

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