Parent as Emotional Coach

    1. A Parent can use him/her self as emotional coach. Every angry outburst is an opportunity to teach a child how to identify and articulate his/her emotional experience.
    2. The child benefits most from emotional warmth, support and guidance as to how “to talk it through” and empathy-lots of “I can see you’re really angry and frustrated”.

  1. Children learn that all emotions are normal and healthy, and are given tools to express their feelings and encouraged to work them through.
  2. Parents can make an effort to get into their child’s emotional world through reflective listening-that is clarifying and validating a child’s feelings, then assisting the child to express those feelings in appropriate ways.
  3. By using “I messages” parents can give children feedback in an effective manner, without blaming or shaming. “I feel worried when you hit your sister, and I can’t allow you to hurt others”.
  4. Clear limits and consequences are set and discussed when everyone is cool, then, there is consistent follow through. You do what you said you were going to do.
  5. The main goal is to teach our children to experience, communicate and use their emotions constructively.

Helping Children Lengthen Their Fuse

Children often need to learn how to delay an angry impulse to scream, hit, bite, and throw a tantrum or other such anger response. By talking to your children about anger, you can help them learn that it is normal and healthy to develop strategies for how to handle intense feelings of anger.

Teach a child that when s/he feels very angry s/he can control those feelings by:

  1. Counting to 20
  2. Taking deep breaths
  3. Drawing a picture of how they’re feeling
  4. Taking a time out
  5. Talking about what they are feeling
  6. Reciting the alphabet
  7. Listening to music
  8. Looking at or reading a book
  9. Playing with water or playdoh
  10. Screaming into a pillow
  11. Creating a cool off basket, filled with soft toys, a koosh ball or other sensory stimulants that will have a calming effect.
  12. Getting out for some fresh air
  13. Creating an “angry box”- a knee high cardboard box where a pre-schooler can go and vent to their heart’s delight.
  14. Having a clear understanding before the anger incident what is Ok and not OK to do, e.g. It’s ok to feel angry and punch my pillow, but it isn’t ok to feel angry and punch my brother.
  15. Teach your child that s/he can learn to regulate feelings. The child learns that an unpleasant emotion need not last for an extended time. Help your child learn to switch to more positive emotional states.

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The Summer Day

Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.