May 13, 2008

Reflective Communication and Emotion Coaching

Spring Parenting Group: Group 4

Reflective Communication: Actively Listening and Acknowledging Feelings

Feelings are a means of communicating and not a problem to be fixed. To support a child’s healthy social and emotional development, it is important to look beyond his or her behavior to the feeling that is being communicated. Attending to your child in this way will help the child experience, recognize and trust his or her own feelings.

Reflective Communication:
  • Demonstrates parent’s interest in the child
  • Provides children with labels for their feelings, helping them to now how to talk about feelings and increasing their ability to express emotions in constructive ways
  • Communicates acceptance of the child’s feelings and needs
  • Helps children accept themselves – When they feel accepted by their parents they then internalize the sense of accepting themselves
  • Provides structure so the child feels in control
  • Is a way of following, rather than leading
  • Allows children an opportunity to clarify any misunderstanding the parents have of the child’s intentions or feelings
  • Communicates the message:
    • I am here
    • I hear you
    • I understand
    • I care
    • I always agree
    • I must make you happy
    • I will solve your problems
Your Attention in Powerful. Your Reflective Attention is Empowering.

To acknowledge feelings:

1. Listen quietly and with your full attention.

2. Acknowledge that you are listening to them with a word (it can also be a grunt or moan that mirrors the emotional tone of what they are sharing!)
Oh… mmmm…I see…

3. Give their feelings a name.
You feel angry. You’re confused that she said that. You’re excited.

For children over 7 you can give their feeling a name in the form of a question or an I-wonder statement.
Were you angry? I wonder if you were confused. Are you thrilled that that happened?

How Adults Stop Children's Feelings

From the article Children's Feelings By Deborah Critzer
"Some of the ways which we as parents unknowingly stop feelings in children are:
Rescuing,Punishing, Solving the Problem, Moralizing, Denial, Humiliating, Pitying, Lecturing

Some ways to encourage feelings are:
Be Empathetic, Validate Feelings, Identify Feelings, Listen Intently, Be Curious, Invite Expression of Feelings"
Read the article to find out what kinds of effects the feeling stoppers have on children and to see examples of how to encourage feelings.

Five Steps of Emotion Coaching
from John Gottman, Ph.D. and Talaris Research Institute

Step 1 - Emotional Awareness

Step 2 - Recognizing Emotions As An Opportunity For Intimacy And Teaching

Step 3 - Listening Empathetically And Validating The Child's Feelings

Step 4 - Labeling Emotions

Step 5 - Setting Limits While Helping the Child Problem-Solve

Suggested Reading from Parenting Group Information CD

Reflective and Empowering Communication
  • Reflective Communication/ Acknowledging Feelings
  • Strengthening Relationships Through Respectful Communication
  • Empowering Communication Ideas
  • Questions and Cautions about Reflective Communication
  • Praise and Encouragement
  • Teaching Children Skills
Articles about Feelings and Communication

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