One of the most difficult obstacles I’ve encountered as a foster parent is helping our 8yr old express her feelings appropriately. I’m sure I’m not alone when it comes to this topic. Quite often, parents share their frustrations about their “failure” as parents; they don’t know how to listen to their child or how to help their child express their feelings. They simply feel overwhelmed.
As parents we want to protect our child from disappointments and conflicts with others, but we can’t be with them 24/7. The alternative is to help them understand their feelings and give them tools to cope with unpleasant experiences. When your child shares feelings, it allows them to vent and release their fears. Sharing feelings gives them opportunities to practice gaining control over their emotions and behaviors to make better choices.
I will begin by giving you a format you can use with your child, called My Feelings. On my next blog, I will give you the tools you need by teaching you how to use reflective and active listening, which encourages your child to express and share feelings with you. My hope is that as you communication with your child, your relationship will improve.
Start with explaining to your child that as a family, you will begin discussing your feelings. In our home, we’ve put up a Communication Board to post weekly memory verse, I statement, Family Meeting notes and a section for Thoughts and Feelings. You can place the My Feelings worksheet and Feeling Chart on a visible place for your child. Go over the worksheet with your child by giving an example (fill one first). Then, have your child fill one out. It’s a good idea to start with a positive feeling. Once your child feels comfortable, move to a negative feeling.
- A feeling I had today was (feeling word)
- What happened to make me feel that way? (actual incident – facts)
- This is how my feeling looks (have child draw face and color it)
- I expressed my feelings by (what the child did or said – behavior)
- Two things that can help me feel better? (what can child do or ask an adult that will help?)
- Dear God (letter to help child express his/her wishes)
Do not have the child fill out the My Feelings worksheet while they are upset! It must be done once they are calm and relaxed. If not, they will associate expressing their feelings as a punishment vs. as a learning and expression of who they are. I will have to write more on Time-Ins to help expand on this topic. This is very brief, but if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment.
Rest in His Word: Proverbs 28:2
“Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.” (ESV)
- Have I been avoiding my own expression of feelings?
- How can I help my child with their feelings?
- How have I been modeling expression of negative feelings in our home?
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