Oct 16 2009

Self Esteem – Communicating with Kids

By admin

Family Communication:Communicating Ideas and Emotions with Our Children

Helping Children Use Their Words

In my consulting work in the schools, I am always most impressed when I hear a teacher say to a child who has just had an angry outburst, “Jamie, can you use your words to tell us what’s wrong, please?”  In this way, she is encouraging her students to use words instead of actions to express their emotions.  Such teachers are wise and know that open communication is the cornerstone of strong relationships.

Open communication depends upon listening, upon expressing ideas and feelings and upon reaching mutual understanding.  When this happens in families, parents and children can validate one another’s ideas, emotions, and needs.  In this way, all members of the family can be empowered.

It is difficult for children to put their emotions into words. They are more inclined to have an emotional outburst than to say, “I’m mad at you,” and to explain why.  Their inclinations are to act out their feelings rather than use words to express them. Children need to learn from us how to find words to communicate their feelings.  We can model communication by verbally expressing our feelings instead of simply acting upon them. For example, if you have a headache, you can explain this to your child.  This helps your child understand and accept your irritable mood more than your angry words do.

When we help them learn to use words instead of actions to communicate their feelings effectively, children gain confidence in themselves. When we don‘t, children ineffectively relieve their tensions in emotional outbursts.  This is frustrating  both to them and to us.

Children often blur boundaries between self and other.  Young children do not distinguish between the emotions and actions of others and their own.  Because of this, young children readily assume that others caused their behavior. “He made me do it,” is a frequent allegation by a sibling. Children need help in separating the acts of the other person from their own emotional reactions to those acts and from their own subsequent behavior.

How we handle our emotional reactions to other people is our personal responsibility. We can counterattack in an emotional way, or we can use words to express our feelings. The most useful response when others hurt our feelings is to honestly say that our feelings are hurt.  We are better served by verbally communicating our feelings to others, rather than by blindly acting upon them.

Any questions?  For More Information on Family Communication and Helping Children Express Emotions call me, Dr. Audrey at 602 762 7117 for a complimentary telephone session. I can also be contacted at audrey@draudreygoldman.com and I would love to hear from you.

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