Model the language you want

Preschooler Example:

Your preschooler pushes your toddler off your lap. After checking on your toddler and stating your household rule ("We show our feelings with words, not hands."), model appropriate language. For example, "You feel jealous because I'm holding him and not you. You wish you were on my lap." (Then ask your preschooler how to help your toddler feel better and/or what she can do next time she feels this way).

Grade-schooler Example:

Your grade-schooler wants more phone time after his time is up for the day. He says all his friends have more and that you don't want him to have friends. Model more direct language. For example, "You're frustrated because you have something to say to your friends now and your time is up. You wish you could just talk to them whenever you feel like it."

Teenager Example:

Your teenager wants to watch a show and her sibling is already watching something. She says how stupid the show is and how he always gets his way. Model better language with something like, "Sounds like you're disappointed. I'm sure you were looking forward to watching something you like. You wish you could just watch your show when you're ready."

"You feel ___ because ___. You wish ___."


Using this sentence frame models appropriate and direct language, diffuses your child's emotion by labeling it, and demonstrates your understanding of your child's experience, increasing your connection and freeing your child up to consider other perspectives.