Emotion coaching: What to say when your child is upset

The relocation rollercoaster

Relocation is an intrinsically emotional experience with highs and lows. The highs might come from excitement about new opportunities, while moving away from friends and family and struggling to belong in the new location often prove to be a real lows. For children and young people under the age of eighteen, these challenges can have a long-lasting impact. An important part of developing emotional wellbeing throughout relocation is for parents and international teachers to respond, rather than react, when children are upset.

Emotion coaching

This article from Dr Ashley Soderlund Ph.D., a developmental psychologist, offers some fantastic phrases for adults to respond constructively to children’s emotions when they’re on the relocation rollercoaster. She provides the following ten phrases along with more explanation in the article.

  1.  It’s okay to be upset — it’s good to let it out.

  2. I hear you — I’m here for you — I’ll stay with you.

  3. It’s okay to feel how you feel.  It is not okay to hit someone.

  4. How you feel right now won’t last forever. It’s okay to feel how you are feeling. It will pass and you will feel better again soon.

  5. Let’s take a breath, take a break, sit down, pause for a minute…

  6. You are good and kind.

  7. I’ll be over here when you need me.

  8. Let’s have a do-over!

  9. What can we learn from this? What is the lesson in this? 

  10. You’ll remember next time.

Interested in hearing more?

You might be interested in the following options:

  1. My hello/goodbye programme for families or international schools provides practical strategies for parents and teachers to address children’s challenging feelings in a constructive way

  2. Using A New Adventure: Coaching Cards for an International Move provides opportunities for everyone in the family to express their feelings at different stages of a move and to respond to one another in a supportive way

  3. You might also like to check out last week’s blog on supportive phrases