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'You can't pour from an empty cup' - 5 ways to keep your child's emotional cup topped up

Imagine that every child has a cup that needs to be filled with affection, love, security and attention - a cup that holds all their emotional fuel. This is what us professionals refer to as a child's emotional cup.

The saying 'You can't pour from an empty cup' is certainly true with the emotional cup, as when it is running empty, children's behaviour may worsen and their self-esteem will be very low.

It is therefore important that parents and carers keep their children's emotional cup filled, and here are 5 easy ways to do so.

Time together - Set aside time to play together, read or just a cuddle and chat with your child. This needs to be focussed time, so no distractions from phones. Just good quality time. Time is something that parents are often short of, but just 30 minutes a day can make all the difference - split into three 10 minute chunks if you are really pressed for time.

Affection - Comforting your child through loving words or giving them a loving hug, can really help diffuse a tense situation when your child is frustrated or upset. Affection also helps your child feel safe and secure as they know that you care.

Show an interest in what they love doing - When you see your child doing something that they like, engage with them - ask them questions about what they are doing and perhaps join in the fun.

Give praise - Sometimes it is easy to focus on the negatives, but showing your child that you notice the positives is important. Giving praise when you see them doing something good or helpful, will boost their confidence no end and will likely encourage more of the positive and less of the negative. If you have had a day where it has mainly been negative, which can often happen, try to end the day on a positive. At bedtime remind your child of something positive that they have done, no matter how small.

Listen - Children will be more likely tell you about the big things later in life, if they have felt that the smaller things were listened to earlier in their life.

Engaging in 'active listening' is important - making eye contact with your child when they are talking, putting down your phone, giving your child time to talk and not downplaying any concerns that your child might be trying to express.

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