We believe that all emotions are valuable, and that a joyful life is embracing the whole range of emotions, while choosing to act according to one’s values
|Seeing emotions as a resource, not as inconveniences, will help you listen to your child and validate his/her feelings. Giving the emotions names and reflecting over acceptable behaviors together, will support both your connection and your child’s emotional intelligence. However, talking about emotions is not easy. Keeping these three points in mind can help to get you on the way:
1. Choose the right moment
Learning about emotion and practicing emotion management at a quiet time makes it a lot easier -and a lot more fun! It’s in these times we can plant some seeds, remembering past difficulties, mistakes, triumphs, and achievements. In the moment of experiencing intense emotions, you can label and validate the emotions, but for teaching it is best to wait.
Dr. Dan Siegel has some great tips on how to connect with your child in the moment of intense emotions.
2. Stay curious
We believe that staying curious, open, and non-judgemental is the key to nourishing children’s emotional lives. It is always a good idea to first ask, instead of assuming, as we interpret situations and emotions a little differently. Allow yourselves time, you do not need to have an answer ready, or even a question!
Being non-judgemental is not easy, and often the hardest person to show acceptance toward is yourself. Mindfulness exercises can support your ability to stay open and curious.
3. Teach values
All families have their own, specific emotional climate, culture, history, previous experiences, future hopes and expectations, and set of values, which influence how we react to emotions and how we manage them. Helping children understand the “why” behind an emotion or a behavior, is giving them a map. Teaching children values is giving them the direction and the compass.
WHAT QUESTIONS TO ASK
|Asking questions about emotions helps your child to learn about them and offers the possibility to practice communicating feelings in their own words.
Emotions are felt as sensations in the body. These questions can help your child to become aware of the sensations:
- How does this emotion make you feel?
- Where in your body can you feel it?
- Can you feel it changing?
- How long do you think the feeling lasts for?
Different situations elicit different emotions. Linking situations to emotions can deepen your child's understanding of emotions:
- What might trigger this emotion?
- When do you usually feel this emotion?
- Do you remember a situation, when someone else felt this emotion?
- When would you like to feel this emotion?
Having a good emotional vocabulary is a key factor of emotional intelligence. Asking these questions can train your child's ability to communicate his/her feelings:
- How would you explain this emotion?
- What do you think it might want to tell you?
- What do you think this feeling can help you with?
- Can you feel other emotions, too?
Knowing how oneself and others react to different emotions can make managing emotions easier. Asking your child about triggers encourages thinking:
- How do you usually react to feeling this emotion?
- What are you usually thinking when experiencing this emotion?
- How do I / someone else usually react when feeling this emotion?
- Can you think of other ways to react?
TIPS AND TOOLS
|Here we have collected together for you some research-based parenting tips and tools:
How to deal with conflicts
Conflicts are a natural part of family life. However, you can learn how to manage conflicts in a way that meets everyone's needs. Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a great tool for building respect, cooperation, and harmony in your family’s communication.
Here is a short video about how you can get started communicating nonviolently with your child.
Feeling overwhelmed, sad, or stressed?
Self-compassion is being compassionate towards yourself. It is not selfishness, but a recognition that oneself is worthy of love, also when making mistakes or suffering. Treat yourself as you would treat a dear friend, and remember that you are not alone. Everyone makes mistakes and feels horrible sometimes.
Being compassionate towards oneself is not easy, but it is something you can practice! Here you can find guided practices and exercises.
Make mistakes and build Growth Mindset
According to the theory of growth mindset, by Carol Dweck, children’s belief about intelligence affects both learning and motivation. Roughly put, children who believe that intelligence is malleable, tend to work harder to achieve something and use better strategies when learning -because they believe that they can learn! On the other hand, children who think that intelligence is fixed, tend to avoid challenges and feel more helpless when facing obstacles -because they don’t know that they have the ability to overcome them.
How can you as a parent foster a growth mindset for your child? Parents’ belief about how a child is motivated seem to be the most prominent factor that influences children’s mindset. Take a moment to reflect over how you think your child is motivated? What you say and how you act guide children to either focusing on their performance and abilities, or on learning. Embrace your own mistakes as opportunities to learn (not failures) and you will help your kids develop a growth mindset (and you may even do that too!). In fact, being imperfect and also showing it may be the best thing you can do for your child!
Children and mobile phones
How is technology, mobile phones, and social media affecting children’s development and learning, and how can you manage your child’s screen time? Iparentgen seeks to answer these questions and supports you in raising your child in the age of technology.
Focus on Strengths
Make a choice to see the good in your child, and around your child. Focusing on strengths and potential can help your child (and yourself!) to live a joyful life, to excel at school and with friends.
We all have a different set of strengths, and we can learn how to use those strengths. Take the VIA Strengths Survey to discover which are your top strengths. You will have to register, but the test is free.
Here you can learn more about the 24 strengths.
Curiosity didn’t kill the cat
Curiosity is linked to academic success, because it involves the motivation and joy of discovery. How can you support your child’s curiosity? Encourage questioning and provide opportunities for exploring. Model curiosity by asking questions yourself. Take the time to listen to questions and answer them. Seek information together. Encourage thinking outside the box.
The difference between guilt and shame and why it matters
Guilt and shame are often mixed up. However, they are very different. Guilt refers to something one has done, and shame to how one feels about oneself. Research shows that guilt-proneness may protect children from risky and illegal behavior, whereas shame-proneness is a risk factor.
When your child has done something bad, focus on the behavior and avoid labeling the child. Instead of saying “you are bad for doing this”, say “you have done something bad”. Then explain why the behavior is bad, how it affects other people, and think together about a way to make amends.
Here you can see a great Ted Talk on shame and vulnerability by Brené Brown.
How to deal with difficult emotions
Research shows that bottling up, dismissing, or in other ways trying to control emotions usually doesn’t work in the long run, and may even lead to both mental and physical problems. On the other hand, accepting all emotions (also the difficult ones) without getting too caught up in them, may dampen your suffering and enhance your wellbeing.
It’s not the feelings and thoughts that need or even can change. Your behavior is what you can learn to have control over (and the same goes for your child).
In this video, Russ Harris gives a great tip on how to deal with difficult emotions.
BOOK AND FILM RECOMMENDATIONS
|This list is by no means comprehensive, but here is a collection of research-based or otherwise quality material for kids or about kids:
Book recommendations for parents/caregivers:
- ‘No-Drama Discipline’ by Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, 2014
- ‘The Whole Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind’ by Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, 2012
- ‘Daring Greatly. How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead’ by Brené Brown, 2012
- ‘Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves and Our Society Thrive’ by Marc Brackett, 2019
- ‘Calm Parents, Happy Kids. The Secrets of Stress-free Parenting.’ Laura Markham, 2014
Book recommendations for kids:
- ‘Anger Management Workbook for Kids: 50 Fun Activities to Help Children Stay Calm and Make Better Choices When They Feel Mad’ by Samantha Snowden, 2018
- ‘Me and My Feelings: A Kids’ guide to Understanding and Expressing Themselves’ by Vanessa Green Allen, 2019
- ‘Mindfulness Workbook for Kids: 60+ Activities to Focus, Stay Calm, and Make Good Choices’ by Hannah Sherman, 2020
- ‘What Should I Do When I Feel Worried? By Charlie Lumière, 2020
- ‘What Should I Do When I Feel Angry? By Charlie Lumière, 2020
- ‘Who Will Comfort Toffle?’ By Tove Jansson, 1960 (or any Moomins book)
- ‘Pippi Longstocking’ by Astrid Lindgren, 1945 (or any book by Astrid Lindgren)
- ‘Winnie the Pooh’ by A. A. Milne, 1926
Here you can find a great selection of educational short stories covering a range of different topics.
Film recommendations for kids:
- ‘Inside Out’, Walt Disney Pictures
- ‘My Neighbor Totoro’, Studio Ghibli
- ‘Ponyo’, Studio Ghibli
- ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’, CBS
- ‘E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial’, Universal Pictures
- ‘Zootopia’, Walt Disney Pictures
- ‘The Lion King’, Walt Disney Pictures
- ‘Wall-E’, Walt Disney Pictures
- ‘Up’, Walt Disney Pictures
- ‘Frozen’ 1 & 2, Walt Disney Pictures
- ‘Beauty and the Beast’, Walt Disney Pictures