Friday, September 26, 2014


By Katie May

We all experience feelings, both positive and negative. Being mindfully aware means having the ability to acknowledge these feelings without judging them or trying to change them. Helping children feel understood and validating their feelings is the first step in decreasing tantrums and acting out behaviors.

As a parent, you are the mirror for your child's emotions. From birth, your child has learned about his or her feelings in terms of how you have responded to them. Teaching children how to recognize and identify their feelings is the building block for emotional regulation. The most helpful way to do this is to verbally reflect what you think they are feeling at any given moment. The first step in achieving this harmony is to tune in to how your child is feeling.

When your child was an infant, you may have learned to decipher different cries or sounds that let you know your child was hungry, wet or tired. By tuning in, you can continue to use your parental instincts to decode your child or teen's feelings. Look at your child's face for clues to her feelings. Is she pouting? Smiling? Rolling her eyes? Take note of any noises your child may make that will let you know what emotion he is experiencing. Do you hear a grunt of frustration? A gasp of surprise? Certain words or phrases can clue you in to your child's feelings as well. "I hate you" can mean "I'm angry at you and I don't know how to express that."

Finally, a child's actions will most times speak louder than his or her words. Tantrums are an outward expression of a child's pain, rejection, frustration or anger. Isolating, cutting and risk-taking behaviors are a teen's way of letting you know that he or she does not feel balanced emotionally.  For the next week, take note of your child's feelings. Just the simple act of tuning in to the way he or she feels will begin to change your interactions for the better. 

The Resiliency Center has a variety of services to help you learn more about how to listen to and respond to your child in a way that makes him or her feel safe and understood, including Family Therapy and Parent Coaching.  If your child is struggling with how to recognize, identify and manage intense emotions, individual therapy can benefit your child.  It will help you find ways to connect with him or her while developing ways for you and your child to feel happier. 

Katie K. May is a Nationally Certified, Licensed Professional Counselor who specializes in working with children and adolescents.  She uses play therapy and expressive arts activities to help clients communicate difficult emotions and decrease problem behaviors.  Katie offers individual therapy for children ages 3 through 19, as well as a Teen Group Therapy Circle, a Creative Kids Yoga Story Time and a Mindfulness-Based Expressive Arts for Stress Reduction program for Teens.  Contact: or610-813-2575. for more details on services and programs offered by Katie K. May.

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