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Keep Calm and Copy: an Easy Way to Validate Your Child’s Big Emotions

Do you sometimes find it hard to know what to say to your child when they’re cross or upset, or having a tantrum?

If you try to reason with them does it make things worse? If you use emotion words to validate does it sometimes make your child more cross?

Read on for an easy win!

Keep Calm & Copy

Try this ultra simple but effective approach: literally repeat back to your child what they've just said.

“You don’t want to leave the park”
“You want that new dinosaur”
“You don’t want to go to bed”
“You don’t like it”

An easy way to validate your child when they are having a tantrum - use a calm voice and repeat what they have said

Less is More

No need to embellish it - less verbal input is better when your child is dysregulated. When their brain is overwhelmed with emotion, they cannot process what you are saying, and too many words may add to their overwhelm.


Avoid the word "but..."! Just repeat back to them calmly and gently, in an understanding voice. Don't try to convince them of anything. Let them know you hear them and you get it.

Be genuine

You might worry about sounding patronising. There’s no need to go overboard with the soothing voice! Just do what is genuine to you and your child.

Be near to them in whatever way your child finds most soothing/least aggravating. You will know what they need.

Emotional Containment

Hearing their own words packaged in a calm, compassionate voice is a powerful way to help them feel understood, and emotionally contained.

Play the long game

It MAY help them to start to regulate their emotions in the moment... feeling like you really connect with how they feel helps to calm their brain.

But don’t expect miracles! The main aim of this approach is to develop your child's emotional literacy, paving the way for them to learn to do it for themselves in the long-term.

Hearing their own words packaged in a calm, compassionate voice is a powerful way to help them feel understood, and emotionally contained.

Puzzle Piece

Of course, this is just part of the puzzle - you may still need to calmly take actions to hold a boundary after/during this moment of connection, such as getting them out the door or up the stairs. If there are underlying anxieties driving their behaviour (for example) you may need to think about a wider strategy at a calmer time.

Let me know how this goes for you, and if you have any troubleshooting questions.

Brain-Based Parenting

If you are interested in learning more about parenting strategies that target your child's emotional development AND actually work, check out the Brain-Based Parenting Bootcamp.

The Bootcamps run live and on-demand so you can get the support you need in the way that works for you. See you there!


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1 Comment

Unknown member
Jul 07, 2021

test comment about this blog 😎

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