Here is the final part of our series on unsticking your small being. Today, we'll focus on how emotions can be treated behaviorally when working on flexibility. If you have not read the first two parts and are struggling with flexibility with your small being you may want to go check out part 1 and part 2.
Many flexibility curricula focus on working with small beings to label their emotions. The intention is to help small beings recognize how they are feeling to address frustration, anger and sadness. There are certainly some important lessons to learn about identifying emotions.
When it comes to increasing frustration or changing angry behavior, I tend to steer away from labeling or talking about emotions. I have seen too many small beings learn the “catch phrases” that become an acceptable excuse for unacceptable behavior.
Have you ever tried to help your small being with homework and they start in with a conversation about their feelings and the homework gets put aside for the conversation?
Have you ever had your small being stay up way past their bedtime because a conversation about their feelings was happening?
Warning, this is escape behavior! Your small being just used their feelings to get out of doing something they did not want to do and it worked!
Let me be clear - talking about feelings is important. It is also important to teach our small beings WHEN to talk about feelings. It is important to teach them to feel frustrated and finish their homework. It is important to teach them to feel sad and stay in their bed.
Validate and talk about your small being's feelings at the right time, but don't allow it to become a way to change a situation that is challenging. (Tweet)
After the action is complete, by all means talk with your small being about their emotions. You may notice that once homework is over, nine times out of ten, your small being will suddenly not want to talk. If that happens you can be clear that your small being was demonstrating a behavior and not a true feeling.
When conversations about feelings become mixed with behavior you will often find that small beings start to mislabel and misunderstand their feelings. Teach them to accurately identify their feelings by doing it outside of the challenging behavior, so it will not become a way to avoid, escape or distract.
Ideas into action!
Think about the last time your small being talked with you about his or her emotions. Was it connected to a challenging behavior? What would you do differently next time? Let us know! Then be ready for the next time a similar situation arises.
Leave your feedback, experience and thoughts in the comment section below this post or email directly at DrMarcie@BehaviorAndBeyond.net with your behavior insights!
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