Understanding Feelings
Father and son playing basketball
Communication is Key

Children with strong communication skills can seek help when they need it. Children who can identify and express their emotions are less likely to act out, hurt themselves or others, or develop unhealthy forms of coping.

Managing Emotions

Help your child cope with their emotions in the following ways:

Teach

Your child a broad range of words to express themselves. Instead of happy try "excited" or "glad".

Ask

Before you assume. If your child is displaying strong emotions, ask questions to figure out what's really going on.

Model

Good behavior and set a good example when it comes to expressing yourself and managing your own emotions.
 
 
Mother checking sick son

Talking to Kids

Ready to talk to your kids about their feelings or anything else that might be on their mind? Before you answer or discuss anything, remember to BACK up and follow these 4 steps.

 
B
Be Open
Be open to being asked questions and open to providing thoughtful answers. This means being a good, active listener and never responding with judgement or criticism.
A
Ask Questions
Ask your child questions to understand the root of what they're thinking and feeling. Kids don't always have the best tools to communicate exactly what they're feeling or needing. It is up to you to listen and figure out what's going on.
C
Circle Back
Are you facing a conversation you're not sure how to respond to? That's ok! You don't have to have all the answers right away. Let your child know that you will think about it and circle back to them.
K
Know Your Audience
When talking to your child, be sure your response is age appropriate. This includes the language that you use, the type of information you discuss, and the amount of information you provide.

Being a Trusted Adult

How to be a Trusted Adult

Trusted Adults are good role models for kids when it comes to communicating feelings. Learn more about what it takes to be a good trusted adult in this caregiver activity.

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How to Have Difficult Conversations

Ready to tackle those big questions and tough conversations? This guide will walk you through it.

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Activities for Caregivers and Kids

Explore and discuss these topics with a child by using our fun, engaging activities.

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Ask The Experts

If you suspect abuse, the best thing to do is talk to your child about it. Find a comfortable space to talk and remain calm throughout the conversation. You can say something like, “You know it’s my job to keep you safe and healthy. I want you to know you can always talk to me about anything, and we’ll work through it together.” Avoid asking if someone is hurting them; understand that sexual abuse can feel good to a child, so they might not view it as being hurt. Don’t pressure the child if they aren’t ready to talk to you, but make sure they know you’re available and that they’re not in trouble. Reassure them that you are simply asking because you are concerned about them. If they do disclose abuse, take them seriously, tell them you believe them, and thank them for telling you. Make sure they know the abuse was not their fault and that they didn’t do anything wrong. Before you report the abuse, tell the child that you’re going to talk to someone who can help, and that this is what needs to happen to keep the child safe. This resource provides more information on how to have this conversation and can help you find your local Child Protective Services phone number to report abuse.

Kids are going to decide on their own who they are comfortable talking to and sharing information with. This might be another family member or they might have a teacher, coach, or neighbor they feel they can confide in. Be sure you know who your child is spending time with, and consider having a conversation with that adult to set boundaries about what kind of information you would want them to share back with you. Be clear that if the child’s health or safety is at risk, that they will get you involved.

Start by modeling healthy behaviors and communication. If a child tells you something or asks you a question, take them seriously and help them. You can also say to them, “If you ever need anything, you can always talk to me – and if I’m not nearby, you can call or text.” Trust and healthy communication is built overtime through small connections and interactions. If the child ever discloses something about their health or safety that concerns you, be sure to alert their guardian or someone else who can enlist the proper help.

Looking for more information on how to talk to the kids in your life about consent? Download this handy list of resources.
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See what other important topics can help keep kids safe from abuse and harassment.

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