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Feelings come first

May 27, 2011

A Great Idea …

“When children are in the midst of strong emotions, they cannot listen to anyone. They cannot accept advice or consolation or constructive criticism. They want us to understand what is going on inside them, what they are feeling at that particular moment.” (Haim Ginott, child psychologist, in his book, Between Parent and Child, p. 82)

In Other Words …

Our children’s strong emotions send us a clear invitation: Deal with the feelings before worrying about anything else. A child may want a few words of understanding: “Wow! You’re really upset!” or “You’re very disappointed.” Some children may want to have a few minutes to settle down. Some may want to be hugged. The feelings must be dealt with before solutions can be discussed.

How This Applies to You …

The next time your child is angry or upset, deal with the emotions before trying to deal with the problem. Consider how your child likes to be comforted. After the child has calmed down, then you can talk about what happened and discuss what needs to be done to prevent the situation from happening again.

To Find Out More …

For an excellent (and free) program on parenting, see The Parenting Journey at www.arfamilies.org and if your children are younger than six, check out See the World Through My Eyes.

For more in-depth reading, we recommend Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman or Soft-Spoken Parenting by H. Wallace Goddard.

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