Help your child express themselves. It’s important to notice, acknowledge and invite your child to express how they’re feeling. 

  • Verbally – by encouraging your child to use “I” statements like “I feel….”.
  • Visually – by inviting your child to paint, draw or select an object that represents how they’re feeling
  • Musically – by using homemade or real instruments to create a rhythm, melody or song to express their emotions. 
  • With props such as fabric, scarves or hats to further encourage expression through dance and movement. 

Create small moments of spaciousness and stillness. 

Throughout the day encourage your child to notice what feelings or sensations are present in their body. The following grounding techniques are powerful tools to help children connect to the here and now and to interrupt spiralling worries. 

  • Invite your child to tune in to their senses. Ask your child to name 5 things they can see, 4 things they can hear, 3 things they can touch, 2 things they can smell and 1 thing they can taste. 
  • Gaze at the stars and moon in the night sky, feel the breeze or warm sunshine during the day.
  • Encourage your child to connect with their body by hugging a favourite toy or giving themself a self-hug. 

Creating a calm space 

We often have to meet children at their energy level. Try weaving consistent, rhythmic, repetitive activities into your child’s day such as jumping on the trampoline, swinging on a swing, kicking a soccer ball back and forth or dancing. 

You can also create a calm and relaxed space where they can choose to go as a positive experience and not a punishment. Give them soft pillows and blankets to make it comfortable. Having their own little zone in the world helps provide children with a quiet place for self regulation while also acting as a blank canvas for their imagination to take flight. 

Be present

Being truly present with someone without any agenda is the foundation of safety and healing. Where you can, quiet the noise around you. Turn off the TV and put away your phone. With an open curiosity sit with your child, notice them and listen to them, even when they’re silent. Our time is one of the most precious gifts we can give to children.  

Margo Ward CEO and Founder of KidsXpress

KidsXpress is a mental health charity that transforms the lives of children impacted by trauma and adversity, before this affects adulthood. Celebrating 15 years this week in the not-for-profit space, KidsXpress are considered a leader in early-intervention mental health services, where their world-first Expressive Therapy program combines art, music, play and drama therapy. Over 15 years, the charity has helped over 4,000 children and provided over 40,000 therapy sessions.