share the thinking

share the thinkingTara and I attended an amazing conference this past weekend put on by the Jean Miller Baker Training Institute called: Raising Connected and Competent Boys: New Models of Strength and Resilience. In the coming weeks, we will share some highlights of what we learned from the fantastic presenters.  Today, we share one of the overarching messages we took away about the importance of connection for psychological well-being. For children and adults alike, healthy relationships — supported by emotional intelligence — are what allow for connection.  In order to help our children create and maintain good relationships, we need to help them develop emotional competence. One way to do this is by including emotional labels and words that help children to identify and name a wide array of feelings. We also can teach problem solving and reasoning by sharing our own daily experiences with them. This took us back to something from our book.  We call it Share the Thinking:

As parents we all feel the pressure of setting a good example for our children by modeling good behavior. We try to be kind, helpful, considerate, and polite. What we offer here is the idea of taking this a step further when your own situation presents a good learning opportunity for your kids. For example, when you make a mistake, don’t know an answer, or hurt someone’s feelings, let your children in on the process of acknowledging the mistake, finding the answer, or apologizing. “Oh man, I messed up—I did the wrong thing!” can be the start of a rich conversation about disappointment, taking responsibility, or affecting an outcome. Tell them how you’re “taking a few quiet minutes” to settle down when things get heated or frustrating. Explain how making that phone call wasn’t a good choice, since it made you late. Or share a realization and how you plan to fix it: “I made a mistake and I think I hurt her feelings. I need to talk to her so I can apologize.” Really say all that stuff out loud. Break down the pieces and talk about the things that add to the situation. Share and name your feelings—when you’re frustrated or disappointed, jealous or sad, proud or relieved. You’ll help your child understand the situation, and help them develop their emotional vocabulary as they learn to label their own experiences. And the more articulate children can be about their feelings, the easier it will be to support them. -n


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