Top 7 Ways to Respond When Your Child Shares Feelings | Kinship Center

“Top 7 Ways to Respond When Your Child Shares Feelings”

One of the most important skills for a child’s emotional healing is the ability to identify and express emotion.  When a child can communicate their internal experience, he or she creates the foundation to alleviate past loss, abandonment, or trauma.  When the child connects to caregivers through sensitive sharing, the parent simultaneously becomes better equipped to understand the child’s joy, sorrow, fear, and frustration.

Some children easily share thoughts and feelings while others quietly leave the room or become “invisible” when anyone asks about feelings.  Whatever example describes your child, your response can either keep the conversation going or shut it down.   

There are times when every parent thinks, “What do I say back to my child?” or “How do I encourage my child to talk to me?” Use the following strategies to guide you: 

  1. Praise your child’s feeling comments- When your child tells you his or her emotions, express your appreciation to reinforce their behavior.  Say, “Thanks for sharing,” “I’m glad you told me,” or “I like it when you tell me how you feel.”  
  2. Mirror your child’s remarks– As you listen, summarize your child’s statement to ensure you heard the words correctly and to show the importance of his or her comments. Be careful not to simply repeat your child’s exact words as most kids consider this practice to be irritating!
  3. Help your child feel heard and understood– When a child feels heard and understood they are more likely to share and to feel connected to their caregivers. Convey that you are listening and understand your child’s point of view through sentence starters: “It makes sense to me …,” “I understand …,” and “It sounds like you’re saying …”
  4. “Is there more?” When you are listening to your child’s communicate about the situation and how they feel use this question, “Is there more you want to tell me?” You have heard everything they need to say when their answer is, “No.” 
  5. Check on your child’s needs or wants- After your child has explained his or her feelings, they may need further help or reassurance from you.  At this time ask, “Is there anything you need or want from me?”  “What can I do to make this situation better for you?” Your child may need you to intervene on their behalf, give them a hug, or spend time alone with you. 
  6.  Differentiate between thoughts and feelings– Help your child to visually delineate between thoughts and feelings through their location in the body.  Explain feelings reside in their heart while thoughts are located in their head. For example, “Can you tell me about the feelings in your heart?” or “What are the thoughts in your head?” 
  7. Do not jump in to fix the problem- Understandably, most parents can not stand to see their child in pain, and we want to fix it as soon as possible. But, by overlooking your child’s emotions leaves your child feeling alone and misunderstood. Before you work on fixing the difficulty, listen carefully with open ears!

One of our Kinship Center social workers recommended this interesting blog post by Kentucky therapist Carol Lozier…to follow her blog,  click here.

     

    Ron Raves: A great company and great advice…yes, I am biased because I work here 🙂

    Adults Behave Better When Teddy Bears Are in the Room – Harvard Business Review

    The finding: Adults are less likely to cheat and more likely to engage in “pro-social” behaviors when reminders of children, such as teddy bears and crayons, are present.

    The research: Sreedhari Desai and her research partner Francesca Gino had people play classic psychology games in which the subjects controlled how much money other people earned and could earn more themselves if they lied. Half the participants were either in a room with children’s toys or engaged in children’s activities. Across the board, those participants lied less and were more generous than the control subjects.

    The challenge: Could the simple presence of toys really make people behave more ethically? Should we stock boardrooms with stuffed animals? Professor Desai, defend your research.

    Desai: In all our lab studies, we found that when subjects were near toys or engaged in activities like watching cartoons, the number of cheaters dropped almost 20%. In several studies we had participants play games in which they filled in missing letters to complete words. Those who were primed with childhood cues were far more likely to form “moral” words like “pure” and “virtue” than those who weren’t. In addition, people behaved better in the presence of childhood cues even if they weren’t feeling particularly happy.

    HBR: To us, these lab games often feel completely detached from reality. How do you know people will behave better in the real world based on this?

    Larry Lessig, my boss at Harvard’s ethics center, had the same question. He asked me point-blank, “Can you demonstrate this kind of effect in the field?” So we took KLD’s massive database of corporate information and cross-referenced it with geographical data, and we found that if companies have five or more day-care centers, nurseries, or kindergartens within a two-mile radius of their headquarters, their charitable giving increases significantly.

    How can you link charitable giving to day-care centers in the area? There are a lot of variables at work here.

    We ran a regression analysis that controlled for firm-specific variables—size, age, risk, business performance. And we controlled for population density, because research has shown that people are somewhat meaner in very dense places. Even after controlling for all this, the more day-care centers and kindergartens there were, the more likely the company was to engage in charitable behavior. This was so exciting. For someone who does lab work, it was nice to see the same pattern of results in the real-world data.

    I am glad to see this type of research out there…it makes my office look more normal. I can get away with having toys in my office since I am a child therapist but now everyone has a good excuse to bring in a couple stuffed animals or box of crayons.