Skip links

7 Ways to Fill Your Child’s Emotional Cup

Woman and Girl Talking While Lying on Bed

Our children need lots of things from us. There is no debating this fact. They need shelter, food, a good education, but what else do they really need? They need to feel loved and cared for. And, they need their emotional cups filled daily.
The “emotional cup”is a metaphor which asks that you imagine children have a cup that needs to be filled with attention, affection, and security. When this cup doesn’t get filled, misbehaviour, arguments, and aggressiveness start showing up more in our children. The cup can also be emptied by stress, loneliness, and punishments.
Here is what you can do to fill your child’s emotional cup everyday:

Demonstrate 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.

Spend time with them

You may have a lot on your plate, but your children need your time and attention, even if it’s just chatting while you enjoy a snack or watching a movie together. Set aside ten minutes out of your daily routine and label it as “our special connection time” where you and your child spend uninterrupted quality time together; doing an activity of their choice. They’ll start looking forward to that special time everyday which will be great to build a better connection with them and to fill their emotional cups.

Let them win

I know the importance of teaching kids to lose with grace, but sometimes if their power cup is empty, they need to feel that experience of being on top. Playing board games, sport, or anything else where you can let them win can be a way of meeting this need. Sometimes, let them win to make them feel great about themselves.

Give them choices

Every now and then let them be in charge for a day. Set some initial ground rules that are non-negotiable for you, give them boundaries, and then let them be in charge of deciding what to do that day! And, give them appropriate choices for them to choose from whenever possible.

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.

Encourage them

Sometimes it is easy to focus on the negatives, but showing your child that you notice the positives is important. Encourage them when you see them doing something good or helpful; it will boost their confidence and will likely inspire them to be more positive in terms of behavior. It’s a great idea to focus on all the positives for the day around bed-time so they feel valued and loved, ready to take on a brand new day.


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.