Acknowledging a child's feelings

Learn about: Acknowledging a child's feelings from Mary Hartzell, MEd,...
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Acknowledging a child's feelings

Well, one thing the parent could do is change that expectation that they're gonna stop crying if you just tell them to stop crying, because most children don't like limits on what they were doing, particularly if it's around bedtime and the goal is to get them into bed. And so they will cry. So it's much more respectful, really, because their emotions are their emotions and emotions come to us, we don't choose them, and to listen to them instead. You can say, "uh," or you could reflect too. You could say, "Oh, you wanted mommy to say yes to that? You wanted some ice cream? And mommy said no, you are not having any more ice cream until tomorrow. And you really wanted it." And they would probably do what? They would probably listen to you, and they'd be, "Yeah, yes." So when you can't give your child what they want, you can at least give them an understanding of what they wish for. Do you see? Because they feel understood. And so, in some way, they don't have what they want, but they have you basically feeling joined with them because you were reflecting back what there experience was.

Learn about: Acknowledging a child's feelings from Mary Hartzell, MEd,...


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Mary Hartzell, MEd

Author & Parent Educator

Mary Hartzell has over 30 years experience working with children, parents and teachers. She is the director of The First Presbyterian Nursery School, a nationally recognized early childhood program in Santa Monica, California. She is co-author of Parenting from the Inside Out and also has created a series of CDs on Parent/Child Relationships. Her parent education classes and her private consulting practice have benefited hundreds of families.

Mary began her career teaching in the public school system and completed her master’s degree in early childhood education and psychology at the University of California in Los Angeles. She taught in the early childhood unit at the UCLA Lab School and supervised student teachers. 

Mary is the mother of three grown children and has four grandchildren. During the years she was raising her own children she taught in the gifted program of the Los Angeles Unified Schools, primarily in South Central L.A. For the past 20 years Mary has been a workshop presenter at national, state and local conferences of the National Association of the Education of Young Children. She has been a lecturer at UCLA extension and is adjunct faculty at Santa Monica Community College in their early childhood department. She also provides workshops, teacher education and consulting with schools throughout the United States.

Mary has served as president of the North Bay Chapter of the Association for the Education of Young Children, Vice President of the Association of the Child Development Specialists. She was the recipient of the first Pediatric Aids Foundation’s “Hero’s Award” for her work with children and parents.

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