Making Gottman Concepts Teachable for Kids

When did you first change into conscious of Drs. John and Julie Gottman and their analysis on what makes a profitable marriage?  If you’re like most individuals, it was in your grownup years. 

The behaviors that assist make a partnership work could be discovered at a younger age to assist youngsters construct wholesome relationships with household and mates.  

Here are some abilities from the Gottman Method simplified so your youngsters can start creating habits that may strengthen their friendships and household connections.


Items wanted: A mirror 

Connecting with others is so vital, particularly today.  Children make bids for connection after they share one thing about themselves. Responding when somebody makes a bid for connection helps to strengthen a friendship, however typically it’s onerous to know what to say.   

That’s the place reflecting (reflective listening) is available in.  It’s a pure response, and that’s simple to recollect.  

To train youngsters to mirror, begin with a remark, resembling, “I get to go to Disneyland!”  They see your pleasure and might guess how you’re feeling: pleased, excited, thrilled.

Now have them “mirror” (maintain up a mirror) your feelings as they reply to you, “How exciting!” or “You must be so happy,” or perhaps a easy, “Lucky!” or “Cool!”

Try one other instance, this time not so thrilling, “Ugh! This isn’t working!”  Your baby can mirror, similar to a mirror, the phrases or feelings from what you simply mentioned: “That must be frustrating,” “You just can’t get it to work,” “That’s no fun,” or perhaps a easy grunt again, “Grr,” “Ugh,” or “Hmmm.”  

Here’s one other enjoyable solution to proceed to show reflecting: begin with the response.  Have your baby think about what might need come earlier than your response.  

Say your response sadly, “Oh, that’s too bad.” They give you feedback that would have brought about you to reply like that, resembling, “Our dog is lost,” “My grandma had to go to the hospital,” or “My sister broke my favorite toy.”  

The extra animated your response, the larger their remark can be.  Response: “WHAT?!!”  Comment: “I just found a million dollars!” or “Our house just exploded!”

You’ll discover that whenever you mirror one other’s assertion, they may doubtless inform you extra about it, which strengthens the friendship.  In Gottman phrases, you construct love maps as you get to know a lot about one another’s worlds.  But youngsters don’t have to know that…too mushy.


Items wanted: Mood Meter

When you’re triggered, these large emotions make it troublesome to assume clearly and act calmly.

Before your youngsters have a significant melt-down, train them to label their feelings via the usage of a temper meter, a instrument from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.  This is particularly useful for youngsters who don’t have the vocabulary or studying potential wanted to make use of the extra complicated Feeling Wheel.    

Children want to have the ability to cool off (self-soothe) when they’re upset, earlier than sending a message, and it’s as simple as A, B, C, D: 

  • Move Ameans from no matter it was that was getting you pissed off or indignant.  That’s the vital first step to chill off.
  • Take a Break and Breathe. Practice completely different deep respiration methods.  Search for completely different methods just like the Rainbow Breathing, Square Breathing, Finger Breathing, and all younger youngsters’s favourite, Hot Chocolate Breathing (think about holding the nice and cozy cup, breathe in deeply as you scent it, then slowly cool it off with an extended breath out of your mouth).
  • Calm down. Find one thing else to do this brings you pleasure and will get your thoughts fully off what was responsible for you indignant.  Some folks prefer to settle down exterior whereas others focus their thoughts and power on an indoor exercise.
  • Distract your self. Make certain you keep at this new exercise for a minimum of 20 minutes.  That resets your physique so you’ll be able to return to what was irritating you and take a look at once more with a transparent head and renewed power.  Oftentimes that’s all you must assist remedy an issue.

If the issue your baby wants to unravel is with one other particular person, they will use these methods and funky off earlier than they deal with the difficulty.  

Send a Catchable Message (Softened Start-Up)

Items wanted: a delicate ball 

Just like a mirror can symbolize reflecting, a delicate ball can symbolize a mild, catchable message.  Start by tossing the ball forwards and backwards, noting how simple it’s to catch when it’s thrown gently.  Ask, “What would happen if the ball was thrown hard?”  Children know that it might be tougher to catch.   They would additionally know that the receiver of a tough throw wouldn’t prefer it and perhaps get mad and wish to fireplace it again.

The identical is true with sending messages.  When you employ light phrases, the opposite particular person can extra simply catch what it’s important to say.  When you employ harsh, indignant phrases, the receiver doesn’t catch what you say, that means they don’t hear and perceive your message.  In reality, they might get triggered and retaliate.

Teach a easy solution to make a sort criticism.  When somebody does one thing your youngsters don’t like, they will say 1) what they don’t like and a pair of) what they would like.  “I don’t like it when you tease me. I would like you to stop.”  

Younger youngsters may use “Bugs & Wishes.”  “It ‘bugs’ me when you laugh at me.”  “I ‘wish’ you would quit making fun of me.”  You could also have a plastic bug and a magic wand in your house,   or print out an image of those as a reminder of calm, clear communication.

Final Thought

As a faculty counselor for over 25 years on the elementary and center college ranges, I’ve seen younger youngsters be taught and apply these classes of their peer interactions.  It works as a result of it’s easy to grasp and keep in mind.

Giving youngsters simple-to-use instruments, like “Bugs & Wishes,” “Catchable Message,” “ABCD,” and “Reflecting” helps them be taught and follow abilities that may strengthen their friendship connections and enrich their relationships all through their lives.

Learn extra about serving to youngsters deal with large feelings with Emotion Coaching. Also, learn Dr. John Gottman’s “Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child.”

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