Updated: Apr 19, 2020
Today’s focus skill is talking by identifying and expressing feelings. Especially when the stress level is high, there can be a tendency to communicate feelings through behavior. For example, a child who feels frustrated with work may communicate that frustration through work refusal, disrespectful language, or possibly unsafe or aggressive behavior.
Encourage your child to share feelings and reinforce that you are better able to help them when they use their words. If they share that that work is too hard or confusing, offer help, break or request assistance from their teacher. Help them understand the connection that using words helps solve problem, but that engaging in behaviors to communicate often causes more problems.
Suggestions for using this skill:
● Model language by sharing your feelings (I feel stressed, I feel excited, I feel proud, etc.). The more children are exposed to a calm expression of feelings, the more likely they will be able to use them too. ● Notice how your child is feeling and use supportive statements such as, you seem frustrated, annoyed, etc. They may not realize exactly how they are feeling and may need your support to recognize and express those feelings. ● Use a nonjudgmental and validating approach to feelings. Rather than just saying, don’t worry, everything is fine, validate feelings by saying, I get why you are feeling that way or I understand. ● Reinforce that all feelings are OK however, all behaviors are not OK. For example, feeling frustrated about your work is OK, refusing to do it is not OK. Feeling mad that you lost the game is OK, throwing the video game controller is not OK. Identify and practice replacement behaviors for these situations. ● When reading books or watching TV, have your child identify the different feelings of characters. Ask how they know the character feels that way (loud voice, tight muscles, facial expression, etc.). ● Do a feelings charades game with your family by taking turns acting out and guessing each other’s feelings. ● Stay connected with close friends and family through phone, video chatting, etc. Keep communicating with your loved ones and include your children during these connections. If possible, help to facilitate (with other parents) having your child talk or video chat with friends, classmates, or teammates to continue to support those important social connections. Be mindful of texting and apps and monitor your child’s communications frequently if they use these tools independently.
During this time of isolation, it can feel lonely and scary for kids (and for us). Encourage your child to FaceTime close friends or family members with you. They can share how they are feeling or just share anything that they may be doing.
-Marissa & The Resilient Kids team