We don’t want to refrain children from what they want to express, we want to listen to what they have to say, even if it is negative feelings. (though obviously no right to hurt physically)
It is the only way that the child will feel listened to and understood, and only when he is listened to and understood he will be able to move on, and let positive feelings come in.
The chapter title is “Not till the bad feelings come out…”, and we find out the rest later on : “can the good feelings come in”. I think that’s quite true.
I pick here the idea of keeping a journal to take notes of the interactions between the children. I think it is a very good idea to take a step back, and then discuss with the children, give them an outsider point of view when things have calmed down of what has been said. I’m starting to do it, but I struggle with the regularity of it, for the moment, I use it mainly for thinking, not yet for analyzing.
I laugh at the image given by the authors of the book:
“Imagine your husband (or wife) tells you that he loves you so much, that he thinks it’s so nice to have you, that he decided to have another wife… Oh.. and also, you will have to share your things with her, and pass along the clothes that don’t fit anymore, and take care of her…”
Ahahah, don’t we understand better how difficult it can be for children?
Let’s go further: “Feeling angry, you finally decide to talk to your spouse, you just tell him that you hate the new wife, he answers” Of course not, don’t say things like that! You love her!”or”I don’t like to hear you talk like that, I won’t hear anything of the sort!” …”
The metaphor is pretty good, right?
We then get to the methods and reactions that are more effective, at least to make the child feel listened:
1. Acknowledge the feelings by putting the into words
“You don’t like it when..”
“It must upset you”
2 – Give them their wishes in fantasy
This I find pretty easy, just starting our answer with “You wish…”. This method we already saw in How to talk so kids will listen… and that we implemented with success!
3 – Encourage creative outlet
It could be drawing, writing.. It is a good method for evacuating strong emotion.
I had already tried this technique with Leon (3 years), as a result of reading the first chapter of How to talk so kids will listen..., and it worked very well. More recently, I have also tried with Alice (8 years) who didn’t want us to go out in the evening: “Draw a picture of how angry you are”
If it is difficult for them to write it, you may even be able to model it by drawing yourself… I have not tried that.
4 – Stop hurtful behavior
We don’t hit, we don’t insult, etc.
At home, here’s a sentence that came back several times a day, after reading this chapter:
“The rule is”we don’t hit, we don’t push,”express your anger with words!”
I realize writing it that we say it less and less, which proves that it’s been effective!
However, we’ve been through steps:
One day, getting out of school, Leon tells me he histone of his friends. I comment:
“But yet, Leon, you know the rule!
– Leon, what is the rule?
– I don’t know!
– Leon, I think you know very well that the rule is “we don’t hit, we don’t push …”
– But, he interrupts, I also expressed my anger with words!”
It is difficult to measure progress in a house (and we’re back to the idea of the journal), but I think that things are progressing. Lately, I feel that I told Alice a lot to tell Oscar how she feels, and I think it has helped.