Reading and Talking About Feelings

     I have noticed over the years that preschoolers bring their questions, thoughts, and worries to their preschool class with them. To help the children cope with their feelings about sensitive issues—I call them tender topics—the teachers carefully choose books to read and discuss. You can do this with your child at home. Find the “right” book. Ask a teacher or a children’s librarian to recommend a picture book to fit the situation. There are books about everyday challenges from eating to getting along with siblings. There are also books about tender topics such as moving to a new home, divorce, illness, and military deployment.

     Read and talk together in a cozy place. Sit together in a comfy chair, on a blanket under a tree, or under a quilt at bedtime. Reading a book often leads quite naturally to conversation. Ask questions to relate what happens in the story to your child’s life. You might start with phrases such as I wonder… or questions such as Do you ever… What might happen if… What do you think …? Give children time to answer. Listen carefully and respond to what they say. Share your thoughts, feelings, and worries too. Be truthful and reassuring.

     Sometimes, preschoolers have worries that don’t make sense from an adult’s point of view. A child might not know that his puppy will move to the new house with the family or that moms and dads can love more than one child at a time. Be sure to answer children’s questions with enough truthful information to set their minds at ease. “We will bring Cooper and his crate and toys to the new house.” “Love is so special it multiplies every time a new baby joins a family.”

     No one ever said parenting would be easy, and over the years as a Preschool Director I have seen and heard just about every question or thought a little preschooler can throw at you. Never a dull moment, but that’s why I love it!!

Laura Harris, TBCA Preschool Director