You don't really feel that way...Part I
You Don't Really Feel That Way!
Have you ever heard an adult trying to talk a child (or another adult) out of a feeling?
The conversation may go something like this:
Child (C): I'm so mad. I don't want to go to David's to play. I don't like playing with him.
Adult (A): C'mon. You don't really mean that. There's nothing to be mad about. You do like David. Remember how much fun you had when we went to the beach last time?
That brief, one minute interaction teaches the child several things, all of which are not really helpful to the child. While the adult's comment may be said in a supportive manner, and with the best of intentions, the aforementioned approach bears revisiting and maybe, a bit of a make-over.
That conversation conversion, might look something like this:
C: I'm so mad. I don't want to go to David's to play. I don't like playing with him.
A: Your mad feelings are so big, you don't want to play with David at all right now! What can we do about your mad feelings? How can I help?
Notice that in the conversation conversion there is no attempt to try to talk the child out of how he feels. There is also no arguing with him about the fact that he acutally does like David, with examples of good times they have had together. The whole focus is on how the child feels at the moment.
Validating a child's feelings is a powerful way to help him begin to identify and understand those feelings. When all feelings are allowed and processed, and a child is taught ways to cope with BIG feelings, he has a much bigger chance for success in all areas of his life....academics, career, friendships, relationships, etc.
That Will Never Work with a Challenging Child
I know, I know! If you have a challenging child, you are probably thinking, "Oh, sure! That's great for a kid who just says, 'I'm mad', but that would never work for my kid, who's over-the-top...who goes on and on...and adds in all kinds of other unnecessary banter.
I know the type...have worked with the type...and, yes, have even raised one or two just like that. Kids with intense temperaments offer an array of challenges to parents, but I'm telling you that you can keep your cool and help your child learn how to keep his, too! It can be done!
Stay tuned, because we'll be showing you what that conversation with a challenging child might look like in our next post! (See You Don't Really Feel that Way: Part II here.)
(If your child enjoys a rather intense temperament and you are looking for ways to help him better deal with anger, be sure to check our Anger Toolbox for Kids downloadable MP3 and select handouts, as well as visit our Anger Toolbox for Kids on facebook!)