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January 22, 2005
Increasing Your Emotional Awareness
Tip—Children are more likely to cooperate with parents if they feel understood.
In an ideal world, people would cooperate for the greater good no matter what their feeling-of-the-moment. That isn’t always how it works out here in the real world. The simple fact of the matter is that people tend to be less intense and more willing to solve problems when they feel like someone understands their position and how they feel. If they think no one understands or cares about their situation or feelings, they can feel isolated and defensive. Children are no different in this respect. Parents can begin practicing awareness of children’s feelings even in infancy.
Dr. John Gottman, psychologist, points out that parents can make a very sizeable difference in a child’s emotional development by practicing empathy. This five-step process, outlined in his book What Am I Feeling? begins with emotional awareness. “Being aware of what a young child is feeling is the first step in helping him or her learn about emotions,” writes Dr. Gottman.
Tools—With young children—ones who may not yet be talking well, however, knowing what they’re feeling isn’t always an easy matter. Dr. Gottman has a few suggestions for how to discern how a child is feeling and how best to respond.
You’ll find more practical tips you can use right now in What Am I Feeling? by John Gottman, Ph.D.
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