Try to get bright kids to talk about their feelings. Listen to them carefully and only ask questions that will help them to expand on their feelings. For example:
Parent: "You look like you are feeling angry. Is that right?"
Bright kid: "It's not fair."
Parent: "Does that mean you are feeling angry?"
Bright kid: "S'pose so. You always pick on me!"
Parent: "When did you begin feeling angry?"
Bright kid: "I wanted to watch TV."
Parent: "So you got angry when I said you couldn't watch TV?"
Bright kid: "Everybody else gets to watch what they want."
|Teaching Children To Control Their Anger|
This discussion may feel like it is going around in circles, but in fact it is serving a very useful purpose. You might notice the parent doesn't ask the child why he is feeling angry, and doesn't try to explain the reasons for not letting the child watch television. As far as possible, the parent steers the discussion towards the feeling. Talking about feelings allows them to be expressed and increases the chance that they will be resolved. Talking about feelings role-models to the child that there is another way to express anger rather than lashing out or storming off.
Parents of bright kids can feel railroaded into trying to solve problems quickly. Instead, these types of discussions aim to help bright kids learn more about their feelings and be able to talk about them. Offering solutions would either tumble the conversation into an argument or cut it off altogether.
3. Changing how we feel about things
Most bad feelings are not solved or fixed, they are simply outgrown. It is likely, for example, that the things that worried you last week are not the same things you are worrying about now. Life moves on. People get over things. Feelings pass.
There are times, however, when it is useful to change the way we are feeling. There are two main ways to do this. The first involves changing our thinking about an event. This can be as simple as saying, "Oh well, it's not so bad" or "I'll focus on what I have to be grateful for" - that is, swapping shark thoughts for dolphin thoughts.
A father told me his daughter was a Manipulator, and that conflict was ongoing. He decided he would allow himself 10 small conflictual discussions with his daughter each day. When the first one happened (as it inevitably did), he remained calm by thinking to himself, "One down, only nine to go."
The second way of changing feelings is to focus on them. Observing yourself feeling whatever it is you are feeling without interruption often changes that feeling. So sit somewhere quiet and focus on how you are feeling - angry/annoyed/sad/worried. This can help to lift that negative feeling. You can assist bright kids to learn this by asking them to sit quietly for 10 minutes and to focus on their feeling before discussing it with them. I often recommend parents read one of W. Timothy Gallway's Inner Game books to help them understand this process.
Awareness of the feelings of others
Being aware of their own feelings significantly advantages bright kids. And being able to read and be aware of the feelings of others provides their lives with an enormous boost.
Parents of bright kids can help them learn an awareness of others' feelings by playing "detective games" with their kids. When you are with your child, occasionally point to people in the street and ask, "What do you think that man is feeling?" or "What sort of day do you think that woman is having?" Television shows, movies, pictures of people in magazines, and so on can all be used to help bright kids learn to read the feelings of others.
Talking about the day's events over dinner helps children to understand the positions and perspectives of others. By hearing that one person had a great day while someone else had an awful time helps a child to have compassion.
Several families I have worked with have been interested in becoming more aware of how they argue. To do this, they have drawn a plan of their house, placed it on the fridge door, and recorded the location and time of every argument that occurred over a week. This is a great way to increase everyone's awareness of what's happening in the home. To find out more, you can check out Teaching Children To Control Their Anger.