Teaching Feelings, Self-Awareness & Boundaries

* Remember, one goal of parenting is to help teach our children to gain insight into their feelings and how those feelings affect their behaviors.

* If your child stomps around and slams their door after being told “no”, it may be most helpful to focus on the child’s feelings rather than his specific behaviors.

* Making the connection between feelings and behaviors can help your child understand and better respond when they have a similar feeling in the future, increasing his self-awareness.

* You can do this by actively listening, paraphrasing and reflecting his feelings back to him.

* Work together, especially as language develops, to figure out what the underlying need and feeling is behind their behavior.

* We can also teach self-awareness by using…

o Mirrors- role playing the different faces of different feelings

* Or making it a game by asking “Look in the mirror and tell me what you are feeling” to help make connection between a child’s facial expressions and how they feel.

o Feelings Chart- you can use this to help the child point to how they are feeling based on the different facial expressions and feeling words on the chart.

o Puppets- it is easier for them to project their feelings on to something else than it is to express certain emotions personally.

* You can use puppets to retell stories or practice interpersonal interactions.

* You can also act out both the wrong ways (like hitting) and right ways (like talking to mom) to behave after feeling certain emotions like sadness.

* We can teach healthy boundaries by using…

o Hula Hoops- The hula hoop represents personal space for the child.

* We also use these to help children realize that parents and siblings need a certain level of personal space too.

* We want to teach personal boundaries to protect our kids from making others feel uncomfortable and from approaching unsafe people.

o Teach the words “friend” and “stranger” and help the child identify how to interact with both.

* friends= high fives/side hugs

* strangers= hand shake/high fives.

o We can also use a visual chart of pictures & clip art including a picture of immediate family and a clip art of kisses, a picture of grandparents and a clip art of hugs, and a picture of friends with clip art of high fives, etc.