Would you believe it….
if I told you that of elementary age children who come to see me for therapy, I could tell you where they went to preschool by broadly assessing their emotional intelligence? Partly because of my experience with so many children, but MOSTLY because some preschools are really THAT AWESOME!
The Emotional Climate of the Family Part 2 of 3
(Part of the Family Climate Series)
by Tracy Lamperti, LMHC, BCETS
Some children are very intuitive when it comes to either own and other’s emotions. By and large, however, a
good early education makes a huge difference in a child’s social, emotional AND academic success.
Children begin to develop their emotional intelligence in toddlerhood, at the dinner table, in their play groups, on visits to Grandma’s house, at the grocery store, when they use imaginary play with their dolls and toys and when they are watching TV, hence, the problem with “Sponge Bob” and the like.
In our day, “permissive parenting,” where the child is given a free pass for bad behavior because they, “need a nap,” “are in the ‘terrible twos’,” are just being a pain,” they are being robbed of the chance to begin to develop their EQ (emotional intelligence).
When we talk about “Emotional Intelligence” we are talking about the following;
1. Self-awareness – knowing what our feelings are and self-confidence in our ability to do things.
2. Social Awareness – understanding what others are feeling and the ability to interact with different people.
3. Self-management – being able to handle our emotions, deal with setbacks when pursuing goals.
4. Relationship Skills – being able to handle our emotions in relationship to others, dealing with peer pressure, conflicts and asking for help.
5. Making Decisions – being able to consider different angles and take responsibility for choices.
Ok, I know. You are thinking, “I know a bunch of adults who missed the preschool primer.” Or maybe you are thinking YOU missed it! Not to worry. There is help.
I thoroughly enjoy assessing young children when it comes to Emotional Intelligence. It is so fun to watch how children think things through (when I ask mom or dad not to interfere).
Children need a reference, even when a facial expressions is shown on a card. When a friend has a “perplexed” look on their face, the child obviously doesn’t have that word in their bank, so they have to fill it in with another word. A parent may show an expression that the child interprets as “angry” when the more accurate term might be “frustrated.” It is not enough to just build up the child’s word bank. They need to associate the appropriate feel with the expression and terminology. This takes time, experience and education.
Through a variety of therapy tools, I can assess your child’s stage of emotional intelligence and make suggestions to take them to the next level. Absent of other significant “issues” in the child’s life, I can
accomplish this in 1 session, depending on the level of engagement from your child, make suggestions and follow up in 6 weeks to reassess. With some great tools and guidance, your child will have made excellent
progress in a short time. Feeleez and Kimochis are just two of the tools I use for assessment.
Tracy Lamperti, LMHC, BCETS
The Emotional Climate of the Family
Part 1 of 3 (Part of the Family Climate Series)
by Tracy Lamperti, LMHC, BCETS
“It is very hard to be mad at someone when you are engaged in a ‘REAL’ hug!”
Often times, our children are the thermometer for how things are going in the family. I don’t mean to blame any parent for a misbehaving, depressed or anxious child. There are many times a parent seeks my services and by all accounts, the parent is doing “everything” right. Then again, I could give a good many examples of how my own child’s troubles could be directly tied to parental mismanagement (my own) and/or parental stress (my own).
Notice the trickle-down effect.
“The farmer in the dell
The farmer in the dell
Hi-ho, the derry-o
The farmer in the dell
The farmer takes a wife….”
Just think of it like this, only substitute “takes” with “kicks” and start with “the dad kicks the wife…wife kicks the child…child kicks the dog…to dog chews up the teddy.
The parents set the tone for the family. Some will think I am old fashioned or stereotypical, but I go so far as
to say the Dad sets the tone. Of course, in a single Mom home, the Mom most often sets the tone, unless there is a strong tone presiding with a Dad who is out of the home.
You better believe that an unhappy parent rubs off on the other parent, who rubs off on the children, who rubs off on the pets or classmates at school.
Think like…”mason jar…mason jar…mason jar…”
When you are in a foul mood, be it angry, tired, annoyed, depressed, anxious…when you are around your children, think like you are putting all of that in a jar and screwing the lid on tight! It will be there when you want to come back to it, IF you want to come back to it. With whatever strength you possibly have, bottle it up when you are in front of your children. Let the little ones be little ones. They sense everything. And even if they are in those magical self-centered years, where they really don’t even seem to notice you crying, or
fighting with their father, if you don’t exercise the muscle of restraint now, you will take this for granted when they will enter a stage where they do notice.
Model the behavior you wish to see in your child and provide a lot of good examples
You may have seen the bumper sticker, “Be the change you wish to see in the world” cited as a Ghandi quote. Well, not exactly, (see http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/08/be-the-change-you-wish-to-see-in-the-world-not-gandhi/). But none-the-less, that is the idea here. I have noted time and time again in my own home that it is far more effective to correct my own misbehavior than to try to correct the same type of behavior in my children. Even when a bad atmosphere has gone on way too long, still, the best remedy is to correct it in yourself first.
Let your child be a child. Don’t talk about adult issues in front of them.
And spelling things out is just plain weird, not to mention, insulting, even if your 3 or 4 year old doesn’t realize you are insulting them.
Have family meetings regularly. Try to save it for dessert.
It’s awesome to set up a family dynamic where you have family meals (a least a few dinners ALL together per week), with dessert. Everyone wants to rush these days, either to get the children to bed for some “me time” or the zillions of other things that still need to be done.
Once again, the Dad sets the tone. He can be INSTRUMENTAL in setting the tone for family meals and keeping children positively engaged at the table.
Children will eat a better meal, keep a better attitude and most importantly, WANT to stick around for that positive family time, even when they are 16. See my earlier post on Family Dinner Night.
Carry down traditions or make new ones that your children will carry down.
We want our children to be anchored to a positive family. Engage extended relatives in helping your children to learn about traditions. Make new traditions. Give your children something to talk about with people at school or in the rest of their environment that has to do with their “apple picking” experience, or “fire pit
marshmallow roasting on the first day of winter.” It doesn’t have to be Disney or other elaborate experiences. Family meals are becoming a novelty these days.
Don’t be “soft.”
If you said, “The next time you…..(fill in the blank)…., you are going straight to your room!” then do it. Children do better with order than they do with chaos. Provide them with the structure they need for learning about life and their world. Misbehaved children are not as happy as well-behaved children.
Kindle feelings of love and support. Hug often, share stories and struggles from you day. Ask each other how you can help them with something difficult. It’s very hard to be mad at someone when you are engaged in a “real” hug.
“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” ~Virginia Satir (widely regarded as the "Mother of Family Therapy")
And…if I can be of any help, please do delay another day in asking! A few sibling sessions, or parent sessions, with the right therapist can be just the ticket to an improved climate.
Tracy Lamperti, LMHC, BCETS
Summer Safety Tips, Part 3
by Tracy Lamperti, LMHC, BCETS
It may seem strange to find the topic of “family dynamics” under Summer Safety Tips, but stay with me on this one.
Holidays are surely a time of stress for many due to increased expectations to spend time with family. Summer, though, in my personal and professional experience is equally stressful, if not more so. The Thanksgiving/Christmas period, at most, usually lasts about 4-6 weeks. Summer, on the other hand, is about 8-12 weeks of expectations of cookouts, Fourth of July parties, beach parties, bonfires, birthdays….and the expectation tends to be, “since it is summer, of course you can come!”
It is my wish that you could enjoy every minute of summer fun, but let me call your attention to “Why Summer Can Be Bad For Kids.” ….not to be a killjoy….
– When parents are stressed, children are stressed. Some children act out (behavioral issues) and some children act in (emotional issues) when their adults are stressed. Talk about plans ahead of time. Your husband might not want to go to your mother’s house for the 3rd week in a row for a cookout. You might want to stay at your mother-in-law’s cookout for 2 hours, not 6.
– If cousin Sally typically has too much to drink and starts wobbling around the guests, better to talk with your husband ahead of time to decide if and how to handle this around your children if it should occur.
– If you are so fortunate as to have mature older cousins as role models for your children that is awesome!
Sadly, all too often, it is an older cousin to leads a younger child astray with negative behavior lessons.
Statistics are becoming overwhelmingly alarming that the numbers of older cousins/youth relatives are luring younger children into both, negative behavior and sexual situations. It is too common that the older cousin relationship is by default a trusted situation; they are family and you are on the property (often they are congregating apart from the adults). However, in this situation, the older youth often knows HOW LIKELY it is that an adult will enter their space. Adults, since they are blindly trusting family, don’t tend to check on the kids. Many of us have very lovely and loving children who would never be that “dangerous cousin,” but don’t take unnecessary chances. It was once a “trusted cousin” who lit the woods on fire and sent the younger children running back for a bucket of water.
Staying Too Long
– Know your child. Know your husband. Know yourself. It’s better to leave wishing it could have stayed longer and longing for the next get-together, than to stay too long. What could be worse than having had a
good time with family and a big fight on the way home because the little ones are melting down.
– Many adults have “issues” with a parent or sibling. For the sake of “family” and “fun” many people set these “issues” to the side. Be aware of buttons that could be pushed and how you plan to handle this. The event could be “uneventful”, i.e. no major blowouts, however you leave feeling terrible.
– When there is lots of family around, it is easier to assume that someone is watching the children at any given time. Not necessarily. Keep an eye on your little ones.
– When there is a lot of commotion, there are likely to be dangers that no one is thinking of; hot grills, knives, open doors or gates, pets, alcoholic beverages….Stay on your toes.
Stress is bad for kids and accidents and oversights are much more likely to occur when there is stress
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