Feelings

James Webb, Elizabeth Meckstroth, and Stephanie Tolan, Guiding the Gifted Child: A Practical Source for Parents and Teachers, Ohio Psychology Publishing Company, 1982, 133-5 

Labels for feelings are helpful, and gifted children can learn accurate labels for their feelings quite early in life. They need this information to sort out messages that are being communicated and to establish further emotional development. They also need to learn that feelings tend to be automatic, like internal reflexes, and cannot usually be directly or immediately controlled. Feelings themselves may be more or less strong, more or less comfortable – but they are not “right” or “wrong.” It is the behaviors that result from these feelings that can be controlled, shaped and judged….

Feelings are so reflexive that they are not logical. Gifted children, particularly those who are “left-brained” and prefer a world of logic and order, may have difficulty handling feelings. They need reassurance that feelings need not be logical, that they are not orderly, and that a person may have several different feelings about a given person or situation all at the same time.

Statements of understanding should always precede statements of advice, action or instruction, particularly if feelings are running high. If you can put into words some understanding of how a person might feel in the situation being dealt with, some of the feelings may be defused. Until a child’s feelings are dealt with, it is very hard for him to be “reasonable” or empathetic with the feelings of others. Just by communicating to your child that you understand his situation and what bothers him about it, you support the child’s self-concept. This is particularly important when you must discipline or correct him. You might think of this as the “sandwich technique.” Sandwich your complaint between a positive statement of understanding and a closing comment of encouragement or appreciation. Such a subtlety of approach is not lost on a gifted child.

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