My name is Ava Parnass MSN CS, AKA “The Kid Whisperer,” and I am an author, songwriter, child therapist and social media correspondent. I help parents become Behavior Detectives to investigate hidden feelings to improve behavior and overeating. As Behavior Detectives parents learn to Investigate Hungry Feelings not Hungry Tummy, mood issues, tantrums and misbehaving.
This Peanut Butter cup story below illustrates how being a feelings and behavior detective works.
I was walking down the street a few weeks ago with a few children having fun when out of the blue one of the boys mentioned to me that he would love a peanut butter cup. I said ok sure, they’re delicious we can buy one when we get to the store.. I was surprised as I never heard this particular child ask me for any junk food but there wasn’t anything wrong with that.
As we continue walking and talking about the day this child then made four more requests for a peanut butter cup. As this child was older and capable of understanding waiting and the number of requests was very unusual for him, I decided to use the techniques I write about. I asked him “did something happen today that hurt your feelings with a teacher or a friend? I went on to say, “you never ask me for peanut butter cups” As this boy knew me he quickly proceeded to tell me a whole long story about how a teacher misunderstood him and yelled at him for something that didn’t happen. And how upset he was by being misunderstood and that it was so mean. I listened and then I said “I was sorry that happened and that is hurtful!” We discussed it a bit and talked about a few helpful ways that he could stick up for himself in the future if that happened again.
Needless to say we both forgot about the peanut butter cup… And sometimes despite my years of experience, I can still be amazed and grateful that the feelings techniques really work most of the time for all kinds of behaviors including eating.
In the book Behavior Detective Investigate: Hungry Feelings not Hungry Tummy, parents and teachers will learn how to translate and transform their child’s behaviors into new feelings, new words and new actions. The conversation starters, activities, feelings maps and many techniques in the book help parents to investigate any behavior.
There are easy step-by-step investigating skills in the book to understand and improve a child’s behavior. Most behaviors such as tantrums, anxiety, moods, begging, repetitive activity, overactivity, overeating or not sleeping can be understood as common outward manifestations of a child’s attempt to communicate feelings and emotional needs. If we change our parenting skills and teaching for the better, a child’s behavior WILL improve.
Hungry Hurt feelings were driving the request for the peanut butter cup and its an important reminder to parents, teachers and myself included, that we stop blaming our kids for their bad behavior and instead find better parenting and teaching solutions to get to the root of the problem, and solve it, together.
Many adults mistakenly assume children know how they feel and how to express those feelings fully. The truth is, children need to be taught emotional skills. This requires using words and pictures, talking, empathy, listening, role-playing, understanding, songs, training and practice.
The question often comes up: Why do all this extra work to get to the truth of what a child is feeling and then acknowledge those feelings?
The Answer is: Because acknowledging and validating feelings as in the example above will teach children in a kind, gentle, loving way. It will also build healthy self-esteem.
In addition, acknowledging and validating feelings gives children excellent skills to be resilient in the face of adversity. Research shows that emotional intelligence skills can prevent future emotional problems by building up your child as they grow, instead of fixing them as an adult.
Keep in mind, helping kids with the truth of how they feel sends powerful, loving messages that hard feelings are acceptable, and you love them no matter what.
Learn to Tell the Difference Between Hunger and Hurt Feelings
You can also combine the children’s book “My Feelings Are Hungry” with Hungry Feelings not Tummy for adults. Both books educate parents and children on how to become feelings and behavior detectives. Families will discover how their behavior and overeating is often a result of feelings that are beneath the level of awareness.
For more tips you can Download from Bookstore
24 Tips Healthy-Feelings=Healthy-Eating,My Feelings are Hungry Written by Ava Parnass
The Feeling Town Map and Feeling States Maps can be found in the bookstore or at the end of the children’s version of “My Feelings Are Hungry” . The map offers a creative and fun activity for parents and kids to learn how to communicate hidden feelings. The three songs “Gotta Find Out” ”My Feelings Are Hungry” and “My Good Mood” can be found here . The songs encourages kids to dance and sing along, and while they are at it, find out that the feelings they’re unaware of that can cause them to overeat and or misbehave.
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