I was reading an article in Real Simple Magazine (July 2015) about social intelligence.
One suggestion for developing the ability to read other people emotions was to watch segments of movies without the sound. See if you can figure out the emotions of the characters. Then play the segment again with sound to see if you were right. This seems like a great idea for helping kids who never learned how to read body language due to lack of early care. It would be interesting to see if your child has difficulty with this. You could create a game using the same technique to increase their ability.
Excerpts from the Whole-Brain Child by Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
Co-regulation is about loaning yourself to your child so that he/she can calm before you try to instruct or discipline. This excerpt from the Whole Brain Child may help.
“Connect and redirect – When your child is upset, connect first emotionally, right brain to right brain. Then, once your child is more in control and receptive, bring in the left-brain lessons and discipline.”
“Or when your 11 year old is feeling hurt because it seems that his sister is receiving preferential treatment (as Dan’s son felt on occasion), the appropriate response isn’t to get out a scorecard showing that you reprimand each of your children in equal measure.
Instead, we can use these opportunities to realize that at these moments, logic isn’t our primary vehicle for bringing some sort of sanity to the conversation. (Seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it?) It’s also crucial, to keep in mind that no matter how nonsensical and frustrating our child’s feelings may seem to us, they are real and important to our child. It’s vital that we treat them as such in our response.”
Dan Siegel talks about “connecting to calm” in this video. He makes an interesting comment that in order to connect we need to be willing to feel the child’s pain.
This is difficult if we have our own unresolved issues and cannot accept their feelings. We always say that if you have any buttons that can be pushed, your child will find them and PUSH them. My suggestion is to try “connecting to calm” to see how both you and your child respond.
Young children and those that have experienced early trauma require co-regulation before they can self regulate. Co-regulation requires that the adult join with the child and bring them to a state of calm. This of course means that the adult must be calm. This is difficult because children can be so frustrating. I observed a five year old and a father standing in line at a busy coffee shop. Of course the owner made the checkout line full of beautiful and tantalizing items. The father kept asking the child to stay out of trouble while he irritatingly waited in the long line. The child was left to regulate himself with an irritated and impatient father. As you might guess, the child continued to escalate as the father repeatedly corrected him. A better solution might have been for the father to pull his son in, placing his arm around him in order to give him a sense of calm and containment. In this article Bath explains how co-regulation helps children develop regulatory skills.
This is a nice reminder and a way to teach kids about empathy. Enjoy!