How to Get Kids to Talk About Their Feelings

Last updated on February 8th, 2018 at 11:37 pm

If you’re worried about a child, encouraging them to talk can be very helpful, whether you’re a parent, grandparent, friend or teacher.

If you think a child you know has a problem, it can be hard to know how to start talking to them about it.

When there are problems at home, such as parents fighting, divorce or a death in the family, children can become withdrawn and upset.

Being able to talk to someone other than a parent is sometimes very helpful for children. Grandparents, uncles, aunts, teachers or even a counsellor can all offer support.

Look for clues in their play

Children express themselves through play as well as words. You can learn a lot about how they’re feeling by simply spending time with them and watching them play.

Stressed and upset children often play fighting games with their toys. Comment on this by saying, “There are a lot of fights going on” or “It seems pretty frightening”. This can help to get them talking about what’s bothering them.

Even if you don’t start a conversation, you’ll be making the child feel more comfortable with you, paving the way for them to open up to you about their problems.

If you can get them talking, gently ask what’s wrong. But if the child doesn’t want to open up, let the subject go, then repeat the process at another time until they’re ready to tell you what’s bothering them.

If a child is too frightened to talk

If you’re worried that a child you know might be being abused at home, it can help to ask a question like, “Is mummy getting very cross with you? You can tell me about it if you want to”.

A child might not understand that they’re being abused. They may simply see it as a parent being angry or annoyed with them.

Children who are being sexually abused often don’t talk about it because they think it’s their fault or they have been convinced by their abuser that it is normal or a “special secret”.

Children will often ask if you’re going to tell anyone about what they’ve told you. Never promise not to tell, but explain that you’ll only tell other people who want to help.

If you suspect abuse, encourage them to call ChildLine** in the UK (0800 1111) or ring the NSPCC** yourself (0808 800 5000) in the U.K. and get advice about how to report it.

If a child is aggressive or misbehaving

If a child is fighting or being aggressive, they’re doing it for a good reason, and talking may help you discover the reason.

Start by telling the child that their bad behaviour is unacceptable and why – for example, because it will harm other people or get them into trouble. Then offer them the chance to talk about why they’re angry.

This might not work instantly because an angry child might not listen to you straight away. Don’t give up. Children are aware when they’re behaving badly, and it’s important to find out the reasons why.

If your child is grieving

Young children don’t always understand what death means. It helps to explain it by saying, “Nana’s died. She’s not going to be with us any more”.

Watch children carefully if someone close to them has died. If they seem tearful or withdrawn, encourage them to open up about how they’re feeling by talking about the person who’s died.

You could say something like, “It’s very sad that Nana has died” or “I feel sad that Nana has died, and sometimes it’s hard to understand why people die”.

If you’re still worried about your child

If you are still concerned about your child after talking to them, see your GP (*physician) for further advice.

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.

** Resources outside the U.K.:

NHS Choices logo


Child Health & Safety News 1/08: 11 Signs of Abused Kids

Last updated on February 8th, 2018 at 11:37 pm

twitter thumbIn this week’s Child Health News: Opioid-related overdoses nearly double in 2017, EMS called daily

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use social media to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we overlook something, but overall we think we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. Still, quite a bit happens every day – so to make sure you don’t miss anything, we offer you a recap of this week’s top 15 events & stories.

  • Proposed bill would expand use of baby boxes. “Indiana’s Safe Haven Law allows a person to surrender a newborn anonymously to a hospital or site that is a staffed emergency medical services provider.” 2018-01-07
  • Borough creates child safety zones Ordinance bans sex offenders from designated areas 2018-01-06
  • Sugar: How Bad Are Sweets for Your Kids? How much sugar is ok? Cleveland Clinic weighs in… 2018-01-05
  • Pediatricians screen more kids for mental health issues if they receive hands-on support 2018-01-05
  • Research Trials Make Treatments Affordable for Special Needs Kids – Thurs Time Capsule 01/11 2018-01-04

PedSafe Child Health & Safety News Headline of the Week:
Learn 11 signs of abused children

  • How Can Parents Prevent Behavior Problems in Their Children? 2018-01-03
  • How Can I Make Sure My Toddler Eats Healthy – Part 2: Meal Ideas 2018-01-03
  • Safe pediatric dental anesthesia is the right of every child Know the level of anesthesia training of the dental professional administering sedation to your child! 2018-02-01
  • Officials warning parents of winter safety seat dangers 2018-02-01
  • Baby University continues to change lives of new parents supplying support and resources to pregnant mothers through their child’s toddler years 2018-02-01
  • FDNY Tips for Keeping Kids From Starting House Fires After the tragic Bronx fire, some suggestions from the FDNY 2018-01-01
  • 3 important steps for keeping your kids safe online in 2018 2018-01-01
  • Glide through these ice skating safety tips 2018-01-01
  • In an Emergency, Please Wait – EMS Will Be There! 2018-01-01

The Greatest Showman is Sensory Friendly Tomorrow Night at AMC

Last updated on February 8th, 2018 at 11:38 pm

AMC Entertainment (AMC) has expanded their Sensory Friendly Films program in partnership with the Autism Society. This Tuesday evening, families affected by autism or other special needs have the opportunity to view a sensory friendly screening of The Greatest Showman, a film that may appeal to older audiences on the autism spectrum.

As always, the movie auditoriums will have their lights turned up and the sound turned down. Families will be able to bring in snacks to match their child’s dietary needs (i.e. gluten-free, casein-free, etc.), there are no advertisements or previews before the movie and it’s totally acceptable to get up and dance, walk, shout, talk to each other…and even sing – in other words, AMC’s “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced during movie screenings unless the safety of the audience is questioned.

Does it make a difference? Absolutely! Imagine …no need to shhhhh your child. No angry stares from other movie goers. Many parents think twice before bringing a child to a movie theater. Add to that your child’s special needs and it can easily become cause for parental panic. But on this one day a month, for this one screening, everyone is there to relax and have a good time, everyone expects to be surrounded by kids – with and without special needs – and the movie theater policy becomes “Tolerance is Golden“.

AMC and the Autism Society will be showing The Greatest Showman sensory friendly tomorrow, Tuesday, January 9th at 7pm (local time). Tickets can be as low as $4 to $6 depending on the location. To find a theatre near you, here is a list of AMC theatres nationwide participating in this fabulous program (note: to access full list, please scroll to the bottom of the page).

Still to Come in January: Ferdinand (Sat 1/13); 12 Strong (Tues 1/23); Paddington 2 (Sat 1/27);


Editor’s note: The Greatest Showmanhas been chosen by AMC and the Autism Society for a Tuesday Sensory Friendly “Mature Audience” screening. Parents should be advised that it is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for thematic elements including a brawl. As always, please check the IMDB Parents Guide for a more detailed description of this film to determine if it is right for you and your family.

How Can I Make Sure My Toddler Eats Healthy: Meal Ideas

Last updated on May 3rd, 2018 at 06:01 pm

If you need some inspiration to help you cook healthy and tasty food for your kids, try these meal ideas.

They’re not suitable as first foods, but fine once your baby is used to eating a wide range of solid foods.

When preparing food for babies, don’t add salt, sugar or stock cubes directly to the food, or to the cooking water.

Breakfast ideas for babies and children

  • unsweetened porridge or cereal mixed with milk, topped with mashed ripe pear
  • wholewheat biscuit cereal with milk and unsweetened stewed fruit
  • toast fingers with mashed banana
  • toast fingers with a hard-boiled egg and slices of ripe peach
  • unsweetened stewed apple and breakfast cereal with plain, unsweetened yoghurt

Children’s lunch or tea ideas

  • cauliflower cheese with cooked pasta pieces
  • mashed pasta with broccoli and cheese
  • baked beans (reduced salt and sugar) with toast
  • scrambled egg with toast, chapatti or pitta bread
  • cottage cheese dip with pitta bread and cucumber and carrot sticks
  • plain fromage frais with stewed apple

Children’s dinners

  • mashed sweet potato with mashed chickpeas and cauliflower
  • shepherd’s pie (made with beef or lamb) with green vegetables
  • rice and mashed peas with courgette sticks
  • mashed cooked lentils with rice
  • minced chicken and vegetable casserole with mashed potato
  • mashed canned salmon with couscous and peas
  • fish poached in milk with potato, broccoli and carrot

Snacks for babies and toddlers

  • fresh fruit, such as small pieces of soft, ripe peeled pear or peach
  • canned fruit in fruit juice
  • rice pudding or porridge (with no added sugar or salt)
  • plain, unsweetened yoghurt
  • toast, pitta or chapatti fingers
  • unsalted and unsweetened rice cakes
  • plain bagels
  • small cubes of cheese

Getting your child to eat fruit and vegetables

Try these ways of increasing your child’s intake of fruit and vegetables:

  • Put their favourite vegetables or canned pineapple on top of pizza.
  • Give carrot sticks, slices of pepper and peeled apple as snacks.
  • Mix chopped or mashed vegetables with rice, mashed potatoes, meat sauces or dhal.
  • Chop prunes or dried apricots into cereal or plain, unsweetened yoghurt, or add them to a stew.
  • For a tasty dessert, try mixing fruit (fresh, canned or stewed) with plain, unsweetened yoghurt. You could also try tinned fruit in fruit juice, such as pears and peaches, or unsweetened stewed fruit, such as apples.

Your baby and cows’ milk

From six months, keep giving your child mum’s milk or formula milk, as well as introducing solid foods, but don’t give cows’ milk as a drink. Whole cows’ milk can be used in small amounts in cooking or mixed with foods from the age of six months. You can give it to your child as a drink from the age of one.

Semi-skimmed milk can be introduced at two years old, providing your child is eating a varied diet and growing well for their age. From five years, you can give your child 1% or skimmed milk to drink.

Further information

NHS Choices logo


Child Health & Safety News 1/01: WW Measles Deaths at Record Low

Last updated on February 8th, 2018 at 11:39 pm

twitter thumbIn this week’s Child Health News: NHS doctors to pilot food prescriptions as poverty soars

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use social media to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we overlook something, but overall we think we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. Still, quite a bit happens every day – so to make sure you don’t miss anything, we offer you a recap of this week’s top 15 events & stories.

  • Bills concerning the safety of children and students from child care facilities through high school students are now Michigan law. Background checks now get sent to the FBI for a facility’s program director & staff members 2017-12-31
  • Smartwatches with internet-enabled GPS tracking devices can put children at risk due to security flaws, unreliable emergency features, and poor privacy protections 4 brands: Gator 2, Tinitell, Viksfjord and Xplora are a concern 2017-12-31
  • Is FaceTime safe for kids? We explain the pros and cons 2017-12-30
  • Why Do They Prick Your Newborn Baby’s Heel? or blood spot tests find hidden conditions easily 2017-12-29
  • Kids to wear cameras in Univ. of Auckland study of ‘healthy’ marketing 2017-12-29

PedSafe Child Health & Safety News Headline of the Week:
Measles Deaths Fall to Record Low: “For the first time in history, annual deaths
around the globe from measles have fallen below 100,000, the WHO announced this year.
As recently as the 1980s, measles killed 2.6 million people a year.”

  • December issue of Kids Who Care… (via @revue) 2017-12-29
  • Want to set your child up for lifelong health? Go with your gut (healthy gut bacteria that is…) 2017-12-28
  • The Internet Never Forgets – Our Children Magazine 2017-12-27
  • For Children, A Good Booger Joke Helps The Medicine Go Down – and Dr Howard Bennett is great at them: NPR 2017-12-27
  • How Can I Make Sure My Toddler Eats Healthy: Parent Q&A 2017-12-27
  • Family meals may boost kids’ physical, mental health 2017-12-26
  • Child-friendly wi-fi will be available at Lloyds Bank branches in Dorset. It’s the first UK bank to offer this 2017-12-26
  • Helping Kids Set Goals For The New Year and Keep Them! 2017-12-25

In an Emergency, Please Wait – EMS Will Be There!

Last updated on March 2nd, 2018 at 11:42 am

It is a beautiful Friday afternoon and my unit is dispatched on a 53 year old female having a seizure. Nothing seems out of the ordinary until we find out that the patient is a passenger in a car that is being driven by her daughter who is speeding while on the phone with 911 and ignoring the advice of the dispatcher and the police car next to her telling her to pull over or go to the closest hospital. The story ends with the daughter driving a very long way home, passing 2 hospitals, all while having a car full of hysterical family who meet us at their home and let us examine the patient only after they have carried her into the house against our advice yet again. Thankfully in the end, everyone was ok but this type of scene is not an uncommon one.

It is a normal reaction to panic when an emergency happens, but the decision to call 911 or to drive the person to the hospital yourself should be weighed very carefully. There are situations where you can calmly put a person in your car and calmly drive them to the hospital and then there are the situations like the one I described above or the one you see in movies all the time with the pregnant wife screaming and panic has taken over and all regard for safety has gone out the window and something terrible may happen. To avoid situations like these we ask you to wait. We ask you to wait for the emergency responders who will show up quickly and manage all the panic and give the best possible care and make sure everyone gets to the hospital safely. The back of a rescue truck or ambulance is a much better place to be should something change for the worse that would cause even more panic and reckless driving had you chosen not to wait.

As always I advocate when in doubt call 911. It is why we are there and it is much easier for us to find an address than it is for us to find a moving car. Please do not put the lives of you and your loved ones in jeopardy, please call and wait, EMS will be there!

I hope you all have a happy and safe 2018.


Editor’s Note: This post first appeared in January 2013. We loved it then…we thought it might be the right time to revisit it…especially for those of you that haven’t seen it yet. Have a happy, healthy and safe New Year.