Create a listening culture and atmosphere which is calm and caring, where young children feel able to express their emotions
Model caring responses and comforting or helping behaviours in your interactions with all children.
Name and talk about a wide range of feelings and make it clear that all feelings are understandable and acceptable. Put children’s feelings into words for them: It looks like you’re cross about that.
Model how you manage your own feelings, e.g. I’m feeling a bit angry and I need to calm down, so I’m going to…
Help children to recognise when their actions hurt others. Do not expect children to say sorry before they have a real understanding of what this means. Instead help them to suggest solutions to a conflict when they are emotionally ready.
Be emotionally available to young children when they need to “emotionally refuel” to help them to cope with difficult situations, conflict and difficult emotions.
Ask children for their ideas on what might make people feel better when they are sad or cross.
Children with developmental differences such as Autism Spectrum Disorders may need additional support in developing empathy. Using role play opportunities, social stories and providing feedback can help a child to recognise their feelings of empathy
Provide clear boundaries without being inflexible.
Discuss rules and fairness with young children and show positive appreciation of young children’s pro-social behaviours of kindness and helpfulness for example.
Support children in recognising the consequences of behaviours and responses that make other children or adults feel upset and help them to repair this by finding new responses or behaviours.
Actively listen to children’s talk, play, body language and behaviours and think about what the child is telling you.
Make opportunities for children and adults to listen to each other and explain their thinking, feelings and actions as far as they are able.
Collaborate with children in creating rules and expectations within a group such as mutual respect, compromise, caring behaviours towards themselves, others and the environment.
Adopt a partnership approach with parents when discussing boundaries and expectations to maintain continuity for children.