When we left each other last, you promised to try to pay attention to your emotions and try to pick a strategy to use to avoid "losing your cool." How'd that go? I've been somewhat successful but will admit to a raised voice(aka yelling) last night over dinner dishes on the counter and in the sink. Note to children: How hard is it to find the dishwasher? So clearly we all need to continue to practice taking "active measures" when managing our emotions. Keep at it!
Today's work is to start to look at why the emotions came up in the first place. Why does that matter you ask? Well, if we want to really learn to manage our emotions and in turn our behavior, we need to understand the different reasons we feel different emotions. Stick with me it'll make sense....
How do you feel? What are you feeling? Hey, check out that feelings poster and tell me what you feel right now?
I need to say this, and it may not be popular. Asking a child(or adult) to tell you how they feel without connecting it TO something won't help. I mean, think about it. Think how you feel right now. Take a minute and think about just the feeling. Got it. Now name it. AND NOW WHAT? If it's a negative feeling, do you know what drove the feeling? If positive, what brought on your good feelings? Did this feeling just happen, or have you been feeling it for a while? All of this is so important and if we just ask how you feel we miss so much.
We need to add a step when looking at emotions and that is what we call the Event.
We had a student once who shared that his behaviors came from an event that "lit a fuse" within him. Often no one saw the fuse ignite, but they eventually saw his behavioral explosion. For years, people completed behavioral observations of him and identified "antecedents" that they believed led to his behaviors. From there, a plan was created to try to manage his behavior. Unfortunately, none of the plans worked for him. They didn't work because they never really helped him get to the underlying reasons, or events, that lit his fuse. Once we started helping him to identify the events that lit the fuse and then connecting them to his emotions, he started the work of changing his behavior.
The Event is similar to the antecedent idea except it often isn't observable. It's personal. It's the reason you feel the way you do. Is it possible for outside observers to see this event? Sure. Will they always see the event? Nope, and that is why this is so important.
A simmering pot of emotions doesn't always boil quickly.
Our goal as adults who work with kids is to help them tie events to emotions. Understanding what makes you feel different emotions is critical. By talking about events and emotions, you give kids the message that they are in control of how they feel and in turn how they behave.
So, here's the takeaway, the next time you feel something, try to connect it to an event that occurred. This will help to build your understanding of your own emotions, and how to manage your emotions as you go from one event to another. Then help your kids do the same. Stop asking how do you feel and start asking what happened to make you feel what you do. Subtle difference, but super powerful for change.
Up next, the B. Behavior!
Stay tuned and stay Connected!