Think back to the last time your child threw a tantrum. It’s easy enough to respond rashly and punish them, right? But it’s important to remember that most kids lose control of their emotions for one simple reason: their brains aren’t developed enough to handle their response to certain situations. And they don’t like being out of control any more than you do.
So rather than punishing your child or giving in to his or her demands, you should do two things. Firstly, acknowledge their experience. Once you do that, you can begin helping them develop skills that let them regain self-control.
Teaching children to pay attention to the way they’re feeling is a great way of helping them regain balance and to tune into their emotional state.
One way you can do this is by explaining feelings in terms of zones. So when everything’s going well, they’re in the “green zone.” If, on the other hand, they’re mad or anxious or afraid, then they’re in the “red zone.” When they’re feeling sad, upset or wanting to be left alone, they’re in the “blue zone.”
That’s a great way of helping kids visualize and understand what they’re feeling without suggesting that emotions are bad. The upshot? It gradually shows them that there are choices when it comes to responding to given situations. And that’s ultimately empowering. Once you teach children this, they learn that they don’t have to be victims of their emotions.
Life is unpredictable. Even the best-laid plans can go awry. So if you want your child to get on in life, it’s important to foster a sense of resilience. Bouncing back from failure and mastering adversity can only stand them in good stead in later life.
But how can you impart such a vital attitude? A great place to start is to encourage your children to take risks while waiting in the wings and catching them if they trip. Another way of cultivating resilience is to teach your kids about the concept and how to calm themselves down if things go wrong.
Did you know that children’s selfishness has a solid basis in evolutionary development because it boosts their chances of survival? Fortunately, that’s not the only trait bestowed by Mother Nature. Studies show that humans are also naturally predisposed to care for others. Even better, this kicks in at an early age.
This brings us to the fourth fundamental Yes Brain characteristic: empathy. That’s essentially the ability to care about and understand other people’s feelings. So if you’re worried that your child doesn’t seem especially empathetic, it’s worth remembering that empathy is a skill that can be learned.
If your child is acting selfishly, take a moment to tell them about the way other, less fortunate people live. You could mention how much the homeless are suffering in winter, for example, or even take them to a homeless shelter.
Or you could work toward helping them build an empathetic vocabulary. One way of doing that is to teach them to “speak from the I.” By encouraging them to talk about their feelings, they become more attentive to emotion rather than lashing out at others.
Listening is vital to this. The best way to cultivate it is to give children your full attention. Listen to your kids when they have a problem. This makes listening to others normal. Soon enough, they’ll take up the habit themselves.
A positive mindset transforms the way we engage with the world. The Yes Brain is an outlook that combines four key character traits: balance, resilience, insight and empathy. Cultivate these qualities in your children, and they’ll be set for life. This doesn’t mean you have to be perfect all the time. In fact, the Yes Brain is all about learning bit by bit and gradually letting you and those you love become their best selves.
Check out my related post: Are we family?