Recognising and understanding complex feelings in ourselves and others
And being able to deal with them in a healthy way, not bottling things up, exploding with anger or descending into depression etc. is known as emotional intelligence. Teaching your child to identify their feelings, is the first step to managing them, and can have a positive effect and help to change negative behaviour.
A good way of doing this is to use reflective listening.
Follow these steps:
Listen for the feelings behind the words.
Accept that your child feels this way.
Reflect back what you are hearing.
Show that you understand.
Support your child to problem solve if you can.
Reflecting back to your child what you are hearing: ' you seem angry, upset,’ and showing that you understand & empathise: ' It must be disappointing, annoying, frustrating etc’ can really help them to feel validated.
So often as parents we say things like
‘Don’t make such a fuss’ or ‘It’s not that bad, or ‘I’m sure you will be fine,’
And then wonder why we don’t get the response we want. When you have really listened and empathized with your child, it can sometimes be a good idea to ask a moving on question: ‘What do you think would help?’ ‘Is there anything you could do to feel better?’ ‘Would you like some help with solving the problem?’
So next time you find yourself about to say ‘Don’t make such a big deal out of it,’ or ‘Cheer up it’s not that bad,’ or ‘Calm down, or go to your room,’ try using some Reflective listening instead.
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