“I” Messages for You and Your Child

by Rebeccah Minazadeh

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Life can be frustrating for children who do not have the tools or language to recognize their feelings and express themselves. Communication skills are essential ways to help children build their resiliency and cope with many different situations. “I” statements are a powerful resource for you and a beloved child in your life to speak up for himself, be assertive, and create healthy boundaries. Healthy boundaries teach your child that he/she can own his/her feelings and are not controlled by others. “I” statements are also great tools for conflict resolution, as they protect the child from language that is blaming and shaming. Here is a quick exercise that is appropriate for children of all ages.

  1. Begin by identifying how you feel. Say your feeling;

I feel sad, angry, afraid…

  1. Next, choose a set of words that demonstrate why you feel the way that you do, and describe the person’s action. Say why the action affects you.

When you… because that…

  1. And finally, end with a description of what you want/need to improve the situation:

I would like, I would appreciate, I want…

Example: your little brother makes a mess of the bedroom you share. Your mother gets home, takes one look at the room, and immediately blames you.

  • “I” message: “Mom, I feel frustrated when you blame me, because I’m getting scolded for something I didn’t do. I need you to ask me what happened.

Example: You loaned your bike to Tyler so he could go home and get his baseball glove. When he returned you noticed that the front fender was bent and the light was cracked.

  • “I” message: “Tyler, I feel angry when you break my bike and ignore me because now I have to fix it myself. I want you to take responsibility for getting my bike fixed.”

“I” statements will work for you and your child. Seeing you actively own and express your feelings will help a child in your life to learn what he/she is feeling, to build strong boundaries, and enjoy healthy and loving relationships. For more on communicating effectively, visit Chapter 3 of RESILIENT CHILDREN.

Tips for Temper Tantrums

By Rebeccah Minazadeh

If you are attentive to your child, you will recognize predictable patterns just before he/she has a temper tantrum patterns such as clenched fists or moving a specific way. It is in these seconds that it is most crucial for parents and teachers to intervene. Parents can distract the child by, for example, saying “Look at the bird!” and say, “You seem upset, can you tell me what happened?”

This exercise, “Conflict Solution Formula,” in Resilient Children demonstrates the ABCDE’s of conflict resolution that you can practice with your child and his/her peers:

A=Ask what the problem is.

B=Brainstorm solutions that are positive.

C=Choose a solution that is fair to all.

D=Do try the solution. Make the effort.

E= Evaluate whether it worked for you and your child/the other person.

Children will benefit most by developing a routine or emotional habit that is a consistent response to their heated feelings. Another positive cue is, “deep dragon breaths.” One tip is to have a child blow bubbles that represent his/her anger. Have your child blow bubbles, take deep breaths and blow the “meanies” away. Older children can benefit from practicing yoga and meditation consistently. Stress balls are also helpful with play-dough is particularly favored for younger children.

While you are feeling stressed, it is important to your child that you honor this feeling, and express yourself in an honest, respectful and constructive way. This models healthy, emotional regulation and self-esteem. It’s okay for a parent to show different moods, insofar as these are explained. For example, you could say, “I am going to go outside, because I’m sad about what Aunt Kelly said.”

Your child will mimic your behavior and response to stress. The calmer you are and the more regulation you demonstrate the better for both you and your child.

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10 Messages to Teach Your Child That Men and Women Deserve Equal Respect

By Rebeccah Minazadeh

After taking a gap year before attending school for my bachelor’s degree in Psychology, I was having second thoughts. My psychobiology class sparked my interest in biology, and I took up a minor in Bioethics to explore my passions. My dad supported me through an additional year of studies and was determined to respect any decision I make in respect to my career. In these years, I learned from my father that my passions, interests, and most importantly, education and independence matter.

Children are constantly learning from their parents, absorbing everything they see, hear and personally experience. It’s up to us to determine what messages our children receive. The following are important messages we can give our children in respect to feminism.

  1. It’s okay to cry as long as we show our emotions in a healthy and considerate way.
  2. Make friends with girls. Our differences make us special and unique (See Resilient Children for the “Unique and Special” exercise)
  3. You can be strong and sensitive. Your feelings matter, as well as your talents and skills.
  4. “Hold the door open for women” not because it’s the polite thing that men should do for women, but because it is common courtesy, as polite as saying please and thank you. (See Resilient Children for the exercise, “Speaking and Listening Courtesy”)
  5. “No,” means, “No.” Even “maybe,” means no. “Yes,” means “yes,” Parents can model this by following through on firm but gentle discipline.
  6. Surround yourself with people who inspire and encourage you. (See Resilient Children for the exercises, “Respectful Statements,” and “Conversation Makers and Breakers”)
  7. A girl may be pretty and cute, but it’s her inner beauty that makes her beautiful.
  8. Equal work deserves equal pay. The contributions of others are equally important as the contributions of your child.
  9. Sorry is a key word. Apologizing and forgiving are signs of strength, not weakness.
  10. Sensitivity, empathy, and compassion are valuable. (See Resilient Children for the “I Am Great” exercise)

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Building Your Child’s Self-Esteem

By Rebeccah Minazadeh

Having resiliency skills is correlated with a high self-esteem. Confident children are able to cope with life challenges because they recognize their strengths and weaknesses, take more risks, ask for help and resist negative pressures. They smile more and have a healthy balance between being realistic and optimistic. Children with high self-esteem feel capable loved and enjoy a positive self-image. Self-esteem patterns are built in childhood and solidify as a child grows. While self-esteem is still malleable in childhood this is the optimal time to be aware of how you influence your child’s self-concept, and to help your child grow more confident. Here are ten ways you can build your child’s self-esteem.

  1. Develop your child’s emotional vocabulary. Boys can grow up believing that expressing their feelings is a weakness. Saying, “Boys don’t cry,” and “Man up,” sends our sons the message that their feelings do not matter- that their needs do not matter. Girls may start to believe that when emotional, they are “over-reacting,” “spoiled,” or “hysterical.” These invalidating messages hinder our children’s capacity to honor and feel their feelings, ultimately leading to a stifled self-esteem. Alternatively, feeling safe to express their feelings allows children to work through their distress. We can help them feel safe with their emotions by asking how they are feeling, by responding attentively to them, communicating with them and validating their feelings. Our children can then develop the courage and esteem to be aware of, to sort, and to address their needs and wants. Resilient Children teaches self-awareness, emotional, and communication skills that will help your child to build resiliency. Some fun and effective exercises that you can do with your child or student include, “Box of Feelings,” “Handling My Anger,” “Using Feeling Words,” and “’I’ Messages.”.
  2. Celebrate your child’s non-physical strengths. The media tells our children that their best most important feature is their physical strength. While we appreciate that this is a key point of confidence, we also know that this is not the only source of their self-worth. Teach your child about his character traits that matter, his/her intelligence, morality and ability to solve conflict. Encouraging our children for their efforts rather than achievements alone, encourages them to build on their skills, and gives them adequate credit. For a job well done, a suggested alternative to, “Great job!” is “Great effort,” or, “I like how you paused and worked through that difficult task; I am proud of you.” To make sure that your child feels important just for being whom he/she is, not for his/her performances, encourage your child’s efforts rather than the grade. Encourage your child’s capacity to empathize with others and to be courteous, rather than his/her popularity. By giving our children meaningful compliments and by showing them that we cherish them, we show them that their worth rests in who they are, not what they have and do. This creates an unshakable sense of security and a high self-esteem. The exercises, “I Am Great,” “I Am!” “The Appreciation Game,” “Accentuate the Positive,” “Only One of You,” and “I am Special” are few of many exercises to get started. Our chapters on self-awareness, anti-bullying and conflict-resolution offer more opportunities to help your child build his/her self-esteem.
  3. Do the things that your child likes to do. Play time tells your child that he is valuable and worthy of your time and attention. Allow your child to initiate the play and to choose the activity. This encourages assertiveness and confidence. When we share in playing with our children and participate in their hobbies, we send the message that we care about the things that are important to them. Their passions and interests are not only a gift for them, but vehicles through which they can express themselves, connect with others and share their talents. This reminds them that they are important which will boost their self-esteem. During play send your child the message that he is special by being present in both body and spirit. Get your knees dirty with your child, encourage fantasy, and create a safe space for exploration. “The Personal Objects Bag,” “My Goals for This Year,” “I Can Do This!”, “All About Me,” “What’s in My Bag?” and “Unique and Similar” are exercises that will get your children to talk about the activities that make them happy, and offer the opportunity to invite you and others to participate. For further reference, check out our chapters with exercises dedicated to friendship-building skills.
  4. Help kids become involved in constructive experiences. Activities that encourage cooperation, rather than competition help to foster self-esteem. For example, mentoring programs in which an older child helps a younger one learn to read, and volunteering and contributing to your local community can have positive effects on self-esteem for everyone. Resilient Children has multiple exercises to help children cooperate, such as, “Friends and Friendship,” “Acts of Friendship,” “Building Friendship,” and “Body Language.”
  5. Give your child a job. When you give your children more responsibilities, this shows them that you trust them to meet the challenge. It also gives the opportunity to feel like they have something important to offer, to work through their own challenges and to feel a sense of accomplishment. It shows that the adult believes in their capabilities which make them feel better about themselves. We recommend making a responsibility chart with goals and rewards with your child. This will help your child to set goals in the future. Some chapters for your reference include, and are not limited to, conflict-resolution skills and self-awareness skills. “Name Those Skills, “ Conversation Makers and Breakers, “My Growth and My Goals” and “Letter to a Bully,” are some of many exercises that Resilient Children offers, which similarly give children a sense of personal responsibility, integrity, assertiveness and self-esteem.
  6. Encourage your child’s uniqueness. Not every boy likes science fairs, wrestling and playing with cars. Not every girl likes cooking, playing house and dressing up. That’s okay. The unique qualities that a child has also make him special. By encouraging these in children, we teach them to recognize that they have a right to be happy with the things that they appreciate, even if others tease them. Resilient Children is saturated with exercises to help your child embrace his uniqueness. These are included in our sections on friendship, anti-bullying, and self-awareness skills, and others. Some of the exercises you will find are: “Unique and Similar,” “My Family is Special,” “Respecting Differences,” “I Am Special,” “Only One of You,” and more!
  7. Role model genuine, high self-esteem. Children’s self-concept is tied to their parents, and they sense the feelings of the adults around them. By being true to our feelings, honoring them, and expressing them honestly, we role-model healthy emotional patterns tied to our self-image. Children absorb how we talk about our bodies, how we perceive the world and how we view our own needs and wants. We remember that children are perceptive about how genuine we are about our feelings. Make sure that not only do you talk about your body in a kind way, but that you truly believe it deserves to be treated as such. For example, while you may tell your child that you love your body; do you linger on the scale, or inadvertently rub your body where you are most insecure?

Moreover, showing sensitivity to our children’s feelings teaches them how to be sensitive to our own opinions and values. How we view and overcome our disappointments is significant, too. As adults, we ought to feel comfortable saying, “I couldn’t sing to save my life.” By treating our shortcomings with light humor, warmth, and by demonstrating an overall tone of acceptance, we model behavior which teaches our children to accept themselves.

In addition, children who doubt themselves in one area may generalize that to others. For example, a student who does well in school but who struggles in art may say, “I can’t paint. I’m a bad student.” This is the sort of belief that can set a child up for failure. It is important here for the adult to step in and help the child see the experience objectively. An appropriate response would be, “You are a good student. You work hard in school. You may want to spend more time on your art homework. We can do it together.” Another way to role-model a confident response to a child’s insecurity is by practicing the carry-over principle. Develop your child’s talent, and carry that over into other things. For example, apply knowledge in one area to another field. You can encourage the enjoyment of athletics onto academics and his self-esteem about the subject will rise.

  1. Monitor school influences on your child. Ensure that the many hours your child is at school is time valuably spent. Monitor that that he/she feels safe and welcomed in school. Resilient Children offers great exercises to help your child cope with bullying, and to teach your child important conflict resolution and friendship skills.
  2. Create a safe, loving home environment. Kids who do not feel safe at home- emotionally, physically, and intellectually are at greatest risk for developing poor self-esteem. A child who is exposed to parents who fight and argue may feel helpless or depressed. Create a peace area in your home where family members and friends can go to practice problem-solving skills, or just to calm down and relax. There is more instruction offered on this in Resilient Children. Also be mindful of signs of abuse by others, problems in school, trouble with peers and other factors that may affect kids’ self-esteem. Encourage your kids to talk to you or other trusted adults about solving problems that are too big to solve by themselves.
  3. Be spontaneous and affectionate. Sharing your love with your child will increase his/her self-esteem. When you see them trying very hard, hug them and tell them that you are proud. Leave notes for your child in his/her lunchbox with positive affirmations and reminders that he/she is terrific. Do not compare your child to other children. Give your child the peace of knowing that no one is more or less worthy of love than the next person. In addition, lovingly address your child by name. This is a simple, but effective and powerful way to show your child that he/she is being seen, heard and respected.

Furthermore, give positive, accurate feedback. Give genuine praises. A child with an inflated ego will likely put others down, so make sure that praise is given appropriately and in moderation. Responding to your child when he/she is stressed by saying something like, “You always work yourself up into such a frenzy!” will make him/her feel powerless over her tantrums. A more gentle and appropriate alternative would be to say, “I can see you are very angry with your brother. It was nice that you could talk to him about how you felt, instead of hitting him.” This tells him that his feelings matter and encourages him to take the right steps next time.

My Family Is Special

by Rebeccah Minazadeh

A great part of our self-awareness is how we perceive our family. A healthy and confident attitude about our family allows us to feel safe in the larger world. The exercise, “My Family is Special,” in Resilient Children, allows children to learn that each family is unique in its own way, and this is okay. It shows them that all families share similarities in some ways, too. Moreover, practicing this exercise with your children will show them that differences enrich our lives, and that we can bond and befriend others when we have a healthy perception of our own family.

For this exercise, show how families are unique and similar. For example, demonstrate that some are blended while some are nuclear. Some children have a single parent at home while others have both. Still, some have neither parents at home, and may live with a foster family, and adoptive family, and/or a guardian relative. For teachers, this is a fun discussion to have in the classroom about the qualities that make their families unique and similar.

You can make the conversation more intimate by showing that family members do not always agree, and this is okay too, as long as everyone respects each-others’ feelings and expresses themselves in a healthy and constructive way. Encourage the children to talk about how their families respond to stress and resolve their feelings. Having weekly meetings and keeping up a weekly family tradition, such as Friday night dinners and candle lighting, are important ways for your child to feel included and connected within your family.

Your child will carry the dynamics and role-play of your family into the outside world. By supplementing his/her childhood experiences with fun games and exercises found in Resilient Children, you can feel more confident that he/she will grow into a healthy, happy adult.

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6 Ways to Foster a Spirit of Gratitude in Resilient Children

by Rebeccah Minazadeh

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A key area found in the book Resilient Children is helping your child to build emotional and self-awareness skills. In this article, we explore gratitude, an integral part of happiness, and discuss how we can teach gratitude to our children.

In 2006, Nansook Park and Christopher Peterson conducted a study to learn how parents described their children’s strengths; they found that gratitude is most strongly correlated with life satisfaction.¹ Another study demonstrated a correlation between gratitude and greater social support and protection from depression and anxiety.  Moreover, The American Psychological Association has discovered a correlation between gratitude and children’s use of their strength to better the community, to engage in schoolwork and hobbies, to have higher grades, and experience less depression, envy and materialistic attitudes.²

¹ http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%Fs10902-005-3648-6 

² greatergood.berkeley.edu/pdfs/GratitudePDFs/1Froh-MeasuringGratitudeYouth.pdf

The following are ways that we can share and practice gratitude with our children:

1.  Be an example.

You can role model gratitude for your child by expressing your gratitude in words, writing and artwork. Small gifts of reciprocity show children that a grateful attitude is a value.

2. Spend quality time with a child.

One study of gift-giving in sororities found that new pledges felt most grateful when they felt cared for, understood and valued by their sorority sisters, fostering a sense of community and friendship among them.(3) The single most effective factor in buffering children against the effects of abuse is having a mentor, an authority figure who shows that he/she cares. Spending quality time with a child and being fully present, with no distractions, will give your child a sense of gratitude for you and the things you both share.

(3) www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2692821/

3.  Support your child’s autonomy.

A firm and gentle, democratic/authoritative parenting style supports children’s sense of autonomy.  By acknowledging and supporting children’s strengths, talents, and hobbies, we allow them to take ownership and to gain a sense of appreciation for themselves.

4. Encourage intrinsic rather than extrinsic goals.

Intrinsic goals include healthy and loving relationships, personal goals, and helping the community, in contrast to goals like money and popularity. A role model can help a child meet his/her need for competency, belongingness, autonomy, personal development, happiness and success by valuing these goals and by acknowledging the child’s success as the goals are being accomplished.

5. Help a child discover what matters to him/her.

Many children gravitate toward a favorite skill, animal, or hobby. It’s our job as mentors and parents to help them turn that intrinsic passion into a life purpose. We can begin by first being aware of their specific interests in social issues. We can encourage them to talk about them and to learn more. Finding a means to help them contribute to a cause that they believe in allows them to connect to something larger than themselves, fostering a deeply rooted sense of belonging and gratitude.

6. Work with children on exercises on selfawareness and emotional skills found in Resilient Children.

Check out the “ Box of Feelings” exercise in Resilient Children for a great tool to talk to your child about gratitude in a way that is easy, safe and fun.

Works Cited

Algoe, Sara B., Jonathan Haidt, and Shelly L. Gable. “Abstract.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 27 Nov. 0005. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2692821/

Assessment, Psychological, 2011, Vol. 23, No. 2, 311–324, © 2011 American Psychological Association, and 1040-3590/11/$12.00 Doi: 10.1037/a0021. 1040-3590/11/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/a0021590 Measuring Gratitude in Youth: Assessing the Psychometric Properties of Adult Gratitude Scales in Children and Adolescents (n.d.): n. pag. Web.

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/pdfs/GratitudePDFs/1Froh-MeasuringGratitudeYouth.pdf

“Character Strengths and Happiness among Young Children: Content Analysis of Parental Descriptions – Springer.” Character Strengths and Happiness among Young Children: Content Analysis of Parental Descriptions – Springer. N.p., 01 Sept. 2006. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10902-005-3648-6

Further Reading

“Seven Ways to Foster Gratitude in Kids.” Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/seven_ways_to_foster_gratitude_in_kid

Bullying and Your Role

by Rebeccah Minazadeh

We have heard the phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones but words cannot hurt me.” In actuality, we all know how hurtful words can be. Bullying is a growing issue, which in an age of technology, now more than ever requires our attention and intervention. Resilient Children is a valuable resource, which helps your child to combat the effects of bullying. It includes exercises that teach skills for self-awareness, emotional development, communication, anti-bullying, conflict solution, and friendship for your child to personally learn and integrate into their everyday life. We can be hopeful and proactive that the harms and cycle of bullying may end, starting with our children.

The following are key tools to help you intervene when a child is dealing with bullying.

1. Be aware of bullying when it happens.
What is the definition of bullying? Bullying is intentionally aggressive behavior that is repeated and involves a power struggle between two children.

2. Build a connection with the child.

Children do much better in stressful situations when they have a mentor whom they can trust. When a child recognizes that he/she is cared about and that a mentor is invested in his/her well-being, the child will be more inclined to talk about the issue and handle it confidently and appropriately. We can encourage our children to reach out by spending quality time with them. Engaging in conversation with them about how they are feeling is helpful for recognizing when a child is being bullied. Questions like, “How are you feeling? How was your day with “x” and what did you do today?” are ways to help a child to open up. Remaining calm, sympathetic and helping the child in solving the problem, as well as following up, are tools to help adults partner with children against bullying.

3. Stop bullying when you see it.

Be ready and willing to intervene when you witness bullying. It is important to address the group as a whole, never isolating one person and to simply and directly reassure them that bullying is not tolerated. Some examples of appropriate responses include:

  • “It’s not OK to say that to someone in my classroom. Are we clear?”
  • “Sending that kind of text about a classmate is unacceptable. That cannot happen again.”
  • “Leaving one kid out of the group is not going to work. Let’s fix this and move on.”

4. Deal with cyber-bullying.

A helpful way to deal with cyber-bullying is to keep up a strong connection with children offline. By remaining open, compassionate, and sensitive, we can partner with children to talk about and stop bullying.

5. Turn bystanders into friends.

Parents, teachers and other mentors can help end bullying by teaching a bystander to be a friend. Teaching children to empathize with each other, to communicate in healthy ways and to value compassion are key. Pairing high-status kids with their vulnerable peers may have a profoundly positive effect.

6. Reach out to children who bully.

Children are more likely to talk to adults with whom they feel safe. By reaching out to a bully in a manner that is sensitive and that shows you are here to listen, you are more approachable and can therefore be more helpful. With the intention to help the child learn, grow and make amends, we can effectively and realistically address bullying.

7. Talk about it.

The more we discuss bullying and the ways to address it, the more hope we have for a healthy and productive future for our children.

8. Develop the child’s resiliency by using exercises on Anti-Bullying Skills found in Resilient Children.

Stopping bullying means that we create a culture which desires to engage with children and to help them build resilience, self awareness and assertiveness. Helping children to express their feelings in healthy ways, as well as validating these feelings and experiences, are tools for us to buffer the effects of, and more importantly, to prevent bullying. Resilient Children has key tools to develop all of these skills and more, such as problem-solving, healthy communication, and friendships skills.

Further Reading

1.  “Eight Keys to End Bullying.” Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/eight_keys_to_end_bullying

HOW CAN YOU HELP YOUR SHY CHILDREN FEEL MORE SOCIALLY AT EASE?

Shy children tend to bottle up their emotions. This not only deprives them of the warmth and intimacy we all need, but can also lead them to suppress their anger until they finally explode. Shy children are reluctant to ask questions or even ask for help when they truly need it. Being misunderstood as unfriendly, disinterested and aloof is often what others think when they try to interact with a shy child. Shyness prevents children from having friends which can then damage their emotional health.

There are several ways in which parents and caregivers can help shy children to feel more comfortable with others.

1. Predictable, consistent daily routines help all children feel more secure. A child who knows what’s expected in the morning to get ready for school and then in the afternoons and evenings has specific schedules feels more in control of daily experiences.

2. Giving a shy child appropriate praise teaches acceptance of positive remarks graciously.

3. Invite another child over to play and have organized games and fun delicious snacks.

4. It’s easier to just have one friend over rather than a group of friends.

5. Teach children specific social skills to interact with others. Role-play with them phrases such as “Hi. My name is ___________. Can I play with you?” Also teach a child to say “Goodbye or “I have to go now” rather than just walking away from their friends.

6. Shy children should never be shamed or ridiculed for not talking or playing with other kids.

7. Playing with a younger child is often easier for a shy child. Then mixed-age opportunities for play may gradually increase the social comfort of some shy children.

8. Unconditional love is important without doing too much for a shy child that could make the child feel overly dependent and incapable.

9. It’s not healthy to force your shy child to show off or perform for others.
Many children who are taught appropriate social skills will outgrow their shyness. Continue to emphasize positive social accomplishments as they occur.
Resilient Children-How Caring Adults Can Inspire Children To Succeed And Thrive is an excellent resource for parents and caregivers to use with kids 5-12 years old to learn social skills to help shy children feel more comfortable with others.

How Are You Feeling This Morning?

So I recently came across an article about the importance of teaching children to properly label their emotions. I was online looking for ways to help my ESL kids learn better ways to express themselves in English. Every morning I ask my students how they are feeling and post an image next to their names on this board I made for them. For example, I’ll ask one of them, “How are you feeling this morning?” And they will answer, “Happy” or “Hungry” and I’ll attach the “happy” or “hungry” face next to their names. The problem is, the kids are beginning to do group-think. Instead of expressing their own  emotions, they wait till the more popular student declares how she’s feeling and then claim to feel the same way. Argh! This is so frustrating as an ESL teacher. The point of me doing this every morning is to get them to stretch their vocabulary so they can properly express themselves, not follow the crowd. But it’s occurred to me that the idea of expressing a vast range of emotions is not highly encouraged where I’m locate. As Michelle Murray said in her article Children Need Words to Put On Their Emotions, “Mixed messages make for confused children. Denial of emotion is a dangerous practice because it denies reality and suppresses feelings that must find expression elsewhere.” I feel that’s what I’m combating every day in my classroom. The children are taught to deny how their feelings and follow suit with the dominant person in their life. Yet, I want these children to not only learn a range of words to express who they feel but to actually mean it. I think overall, parents and teachers MUST be on the same page so kids can really make that connection. I’m pretty sure this disconnect is not only where I am in the world, but is in the US as well. Nevertheless, we need to be on the same page: children should express themselves in a healthy way and done so often. Box of Feelings in RESILIENT Children, I think will be a great lesson plan to combat the group-think. It’s going to take some time to teach my kids all of the different words for emotions, but I think it will help them understand that variety is good and that my classroom is a safe place to express it. I also think that my kids’ parents will be impressed with their knowledge of so many English words that it could be a win-win. They will be happy that their children know so many words, that perhaps it will be okay to use them versus suppressing them. We shall see. If time permits, I’ll capture the lesson  on video when I teach it and share with you so you can see how it works out.

How to Help Your Kids Deal with Emotions

It’s often challenging to parents to respond to their children when they show extreme emotions of anger, frustration or fear.  Some parents immediately just tell their child to “Stop crying” or “Calm down and don’t scream.”  That is dismissing, disregarding and invalidating how your child feels.

Instead of shutting your children’s emotions down parents have an important role in helping children to understand and deal with their emotions.   Walking your child through an emotional outburst can be an effective way for your child to learn to have greater control of those emotions.

So, what exactly do you do when your child is having a “meltdown?”

First, ask your child what they are feeling right now. What emotion? If they don’t express themselves then you might suggest certain emotions they may be experiencing. “Are you angry?” “Are you sad?”  Children usually calm down if they feel they are being heard and that you’re not trying to fix them.

Then you might ask why they are feeling that way.  This often helps the child understand what leads to this emotion.

Then you might say, “How could you handle this situation?” “Do you need my help?”

Children can be taught that emotions are a natural part of being human and that everybody experiences some kinds of emotions.  Helping your children to deal with their emotions empowers them to better understand themselves and the situations around them.  It also helps them to regulate their emotions and to soothe themselves.

As parents, don’t give up if this process doesn’t work as smoothly as you would like.  Stick with it and continue practicing and eventually you will be pleasantly surprised at the progress.