The word comfort is defined as “a state of physical ease and freedom for pain or constraint”, but the word can take on different meanings for everyone. For some, comfort can come from a hug or a good book, time alone to think, or listening to happy music. We can bundle our children in warm coats, scarves and gloves to keep them comfortable, but we also need to tune into their emotional needs as well during these winter months.

Understanding emotional behavior is the cornerstone of our philosophy at the Friends Center for Children in New Haven. Our beliefs and curriculum provide our students the emotional resources to rely on their relationships, interactions and their own feelings for comfort. We believe that teaching coping mechanisms to young children will only enhance their emotional development.

As teachers we know that the needs of each child differ, particularly in terms of babies and toddlers. Every adult faces the dilemma of interpreting the state of a crying baby and must infer the root of the problem through body language and clues from their environment. When children are old enough to voice what is bothering them, it is our job to ensure that they can articulate their feelings in a constructive and effective way. Establishing routines or rituals will help children to make comfortable transitions throughout their day. Encouraging creative or fantasy play is essential, as it is an avenue that children can comfortably navigate in their own way and feel in control by “speaking their own language”.