When your child is going through any event that might be stressful, it is important to figure out how to evaluate your child’s emotional level and how well they are coping with the situation. The best questions you can ask are open-ended questions. Open-ended questions require full answers and not just “yes” or “no” answers. Then, be sure to listen to the answers and ask follow-up questions.
Questions to Ask
When any situation happens, it’s good to ask your child plenty of questions to help them cope with the situation. Ask questions such as:
- How does that make you feel?
- Do you think mommy and daddy ever feel frightened?
- How do you think that makes your friend (or other people) feel?
- Why do you think they felt that way?
- How do you describe fear?
- How do you describe happiness?
- How do you describe sadness?
- What do you do when you are scared?
- What do you do when you are happy?
- What do you do when you are sad?
- What are some other emotions that you have felt before?
- Can you describe them?
- If you could do that again, how would you change it?
- If could do anything you wanted to help someone else, what would it be? Money is no object.
- Do you remember how you felt when you were younger?
- How do you think you’ll feel when you are older?
As you notice, the questions are not yes or no questions and are designed to make the child think. You can adjust the questions for different age groups and get deeper with older children about feelings and how to handle them.
Using words to let a child work through a potential issue or situation on their own, before it happens, is a good way to help them deal with it when it happens in reality. For example, to prepare your child for bullying situations – either them being bullied, someone else being bullied or even them being the bully, you can help defuse bigger problems in advance by talking about various scenarios and discussing strategies to deal with the scenario.
A good way to judge a child’s current emotional level is to have them number the feeling like they do with pain. Most doctors have a 1 to 10 scale on pain levels. 10 is the worst, and 1 is a minor pain. If your child is frightened, ask them to describe the fear on a scale of 1 to 10. Then once they answer, discuss what that means. This is a good way to help them deal with emotions and learn to cope with them in a healthy manner.