Welcome to our fifth summer book club meeting, a discussion of Raising Happiness prompted by Katy Keim of BookSnob.  We are posting Katy’s review of Raising Happiness chapter by chapter each Thursday. This book club first ran on Motherese, so you might want to check out the comments there, too, or Motherese blogger Kristen’s related posts.

Even if you aren’t reading along, we hope you’ll join the conversation.  What came to mind as you read the chapter being discussed, or Katy’s review?  You can subscribe to the comments thread for each posting and jump in.

Chapter 5: Negative Emotions Have Their Place.

By Katy Keim

Carter talks about emotional literacy in this chapter. Simply put, she is asking us to be fully empathetic to what our children are experiencing emotionally, help them to describe and label their emotions, and then help them as “coaches” to move through them.

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She gives us a dose of reality by stating the obvious: life is filled with disappointment and other negative feelings. Our job as parents isn’t to shield our children from these emotions, but to teach them how to identify them and then work through them. This helps them to become more resilient knowing they can overcome more challenging times.

Managing negative emotions well helps us to get back to positive emotions faster.

Thank God I read this chapter before a recently canceled family vacation. It was a God-send. Because the intensity of my children’s emotions cause me stress sometimes, I am prone to make my kids laugh or to downplay a situation or to insist they not over-dramatize something. I realize reading Christine’s chapter that validating how they feel is critically important.

When we told the kids that we weren’t going to Mexico, I simply said: “Mom & Dad are really disappointed.” But gave them a lot of space to talk about why they were disappointed or angry or frustrated. There were a lot of tears. But they also were able to contribute to a big sheet of paper on our fridge that had in big sharpie across the top: PLAN B. Here they deposited ideas like Six Flags, eat doughnuts, stay in our PJs all day, and a number of other thoughts. They moved through it quickly. They overcame.

Chapter 5 A-ha Moment: Christine suggests to “Narrate Your Emotions” so that kids can see your range of feelings and how you process them. I think my husband and I often shield our kids from our emotions. This was a good tip on how to model for your children how to identify what you are feeling and express it.  It seemed like a far more productive way of responding to my daughter’s: “Mama? You seem frustrated…”

Discussion questions:

▪ What A-ha moments, if any, did you have in Chapter 5?

▪ How do you help coach your children through different feelings, particularly negative ones?

Links to related motherese postings:

Tough as Bitten Nails

Follow Christine Carter on Twitter

Become a fan of Raising Happiness on Facebook

Learn more about the online Raising Happiness Class.

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