If you want to help children with their feelings, it starts with empathy.
I think everyone can wrap their heads around that, right?
Through empathy, you might give your total attention and acknowledge a feeling. That makes complete sense.
But these next two steps are new to me.
First, you help your child identify the feeling.
“What happened? Oh, no. I see. I think that’s how I feel when I am sad. Are you sad too?”
Second, you give them their wish in fantasy. Honestly, this one feels odd the first time you do it. But it happens to work. I am not sure exactly why, but it probably has something to do with understanding and articulating your child’s desires.
So for this, you would say something like:
“I am sad too that we can’t go get ice cream today. What if we could go today or one day soon though? What would we do? I would get cookies-and-cream and make sure we sat in our favorite corner booth. Oh, and maybe we could get a balloon like we did last time! What about you?
These five steps have a calming effect that you would not believe.
Honestly, it feels a little bit like magic…
TO HELP WITH FEELINGS 1. Listen with full attention. 2. Acknowledge their feelings with a word—“ Oh” . . . “Mmm” . . . “I see.” 3. Give their feelings a name. 4. Give them their wishes in fantasy.
-Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk (Amazon)