the whole-brain child (chapter 5)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The intro post for this series can be found here.
Read along and give your opinions!

Chapter 5 begins to deal how we help our children recognize the different parts of themselves and teaching them to understand their own minds. These are the strategies that help our children as they learn to distinguish I “feel” from who I “am”. The authors use the visual of a wheel. Too many times, our kids will put their circumstance or their emotion at the center of the wheel. Everything else in their life revolves around whatever negative event or feeling they are experiencing at the moment. With help, they can learn that they themselves are the hub of the wheel. Their circumstances, their emotions, other people’s emotions, all of that revolves along the outside. They learn that they can choose where to focus their attention and behavior because they are not ruled by circumstances or emotions.

 

Strategy #8 – Let the Clouds of Emotions Roll By: Teaching That Feelings Come and Go
We have a responsibility as parents to teach our kids that feelings are temporary. They change. We will not always feel the same way that we feel right now.

My take-away: How many adults do I know that don’t recognize this fact? I really need to focus on this with my kids. So many bad decisions can be prevented by just reminding ourselves or those we love that our feelings will someday change. Maybe not right now, maybe not tomorrow, but the fact is that we will not always feel the way we feel right this very minute.

Strategy #9 – SIFT: Paying Attention to What’s Going On Inside
By teaching to look at other factors surrounding their circumstance, we can help them become aware of what feelings they’re actually experiencing. The authors share this simple acronym to use with our children.

Sensations: What’s going on inside their bodies. (stomach butterflies as nervousness, desire to hit as anger or frustration, heavy shoulders as sadness, etc.)
Images: Images may be from the past or even from their imaginations, but those images are affecting the way they look at and interact with their present situation
Feelings: Teach kids to move from vague feelings (fine, bad) to more specific ones (disappointed, excited, anxious, etc.)
Thoughts: This is the portion of the acronym that accesses more of the left-brain – what we think about, what we tell ourselves, how we tell our story…in words.

My own take-away: If I can just remember this acronym when we’re in the midst of a Moment, then I can hopefully help my children to focus on what matters about each situation and what they’re actually feeling and experiencing. I also need to obtain a chart of facial expressions to help my children learn to specifically identify feelings. I have one in particular that never will admit to feeling bad and doesn’t seem to be able to identify negative emotions. This chart could be really helpful in teaching my kids about emotions they are more unfamiliar with naming aloud.

Strategy #10 – Exercise Mindsight: Getting to the Hub
Dr. Daniel Siegel coined the term “mindsight” – what he describes as two things: understanding our own minds as well as understanding the mind of another. We need to teach our kids that they are the hub of the wheel. Instead of focusing on the negative emotion or circumstance, we teach them to refocus their thoughts and energy on something else. We can teach them to practice relaxation, meditation, any number of calming and focusing techniques to get them to move past the negativity.

My own take-away: Teaching my kids to take a moment before they respond is crucial to functioning both as individuals and as a family. If I could just model this every time I’m tempted to react to a circumstance or an emotion as if it is the hub of my wheel…well, then, probably they’d learn this skill a little faster.

 

What’s your takeaway from this chapter? How have you taught your kids to identify emotions?

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