Kenneth Barish Understands Kids from the “Inside Out”

I believe that what matters most in our children’s emotional development and to their success in life is not how strict or how permissive we are, but our children’s inner certainty of our interest, encouragement, and support. Psychologist Kenneth Barish

Not that the phenomenon of the film Inside Out won’t be significant enough, but sometimes parents (and others) will also want a readable reference guide for understanding the inner world of a child. The 2012 award-winning Pride & Joy: A Guide to Understanding Your Child’s Emotions and Solving Family Problems by Kenneth Barish stands a cut above, according to many reviewers.

Many of Pride & Joy‘s main themes have also been expressed in Barish’s blog posts. For example, on the topic of kids learning to deal with their emotions (Huffington Post):

Among child psychologists, a consensus has emerged. A child’s increasing ability to ‘regulate’ her emotions — to express her feelings in constructive rather than impulsive or hurtful ways — is now recognized as a critical factor in children’s psychological health.

Improved emotion regulation leads to benefits in all areas of a child’s life. Children who are able to regulate their emotions pay more attention, work harder, and achieve more in school. They are better able to resolve conflicts with their peers and show lower levels of physiological stress. They are also better behaved — and more caring towards others. (These conclusions are based, especially, on research by John Gottman and his colleagues on the benefits of parental ‘emotion coaching.’)

Kenneth Barish has these recommendations regarding parent-child communication (Psychology Today). Click on the link for details.

Express enthusiastic interest in your child’s interests, even if these are not the interests you would choose.

Acknowledge their frustrations, disappointments, and grievances. 

Share personal stories. 

When there is a recurring problem in your family life, enlist your child in problem solving. 

Acknowledge your mistakes.

When you need to criticize, criticize thoughtfully and gently.

Set aside 10 minutes, every evening at bedtime, as a time to talk—a time to listen to your child’s concerns and share stories.

Give them time. 

Finally, be careful how you talk about others.

What about helping kids deal with the most difficult of emotional adjustments? Some advice about promoting kids’ resilience (Psychology Today):

• To begin, we listen…

• We can also let them know that we know how they feel – because we have also had these feelings.

• We can help them put their disappointments in perspective. We can remind them (when they are ready to hear it) of the good things they have done and will be able to do, and that no one succeeds all the time.

• When they have become more deeply discouraged, we need to help them develop a different picture of themselves. Their strengths should be in the center of the picture; their difficulties and frustrations should be in the corner.

• And we should let them know that, win or lose, we are proud of them for their effort. A child’s feeling that her parents are proud of her may be the deepest and most lasting emotional support we can offer – an anchor that sustains her in moments of anxiety and self-doubt.

Edward (Ned) Hallowell, M.D., Founder of The Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health, and author of The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness“If you are a parent, you will reach for this book like it’s the hand of a dear and knowing friend reaching out to offer help. Pride and Joy is a superb book–brilliant, wise, timely, and fun to read. It is heartfelt and full of treasures every parent will store up and use.”

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