For families: How to respond to our young people
At the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, we recommend that you check in with your own feelings first. Name what you feel, and use a strategy – maybe deep breathing— to calm your own emotions in order to be available for a conversation with your child. Then, listen to your child’s feelings and validate them. Create space for them to ask questions, and listen deeply to their concerns.
One particular concern we’ve heard quite a bit so far is: “How does a man who says mean things get to be the President?”
Here are some thoughts to guide your conversations:
- Not all people/families feel the same way about how wrong it is to say mean things. Then, you can share what your family feels.
- Remind your child of your family values and the type of behavior you expect them to engage in despite what is being modeled in the media.
- Share that it is likely that many people thought that Trump didn’t mean everything he said or that he will change for the better now that he is president-elect.
What can you do when talking is over?
Your family and you have the right to decide how you want to feel and how you want to act all of the time. Our tool, the Charter, can help to create this written “agreement” of feelings and behaviors as a family. The Charter details the specific feelings you want to feel and what you will ‘do’ to ensure that everyone can have those feelings.
You can also share how you will continue to do good work to make the world a better place. Then, ask your child how she/he can be a helper in her/his world.
Another question we are hearing is: “How do we ‘fix’ all of the hurt feelings in the country? How do we help people to talk to each other?”
- Start by listening and talking to each other at home and being patient and curious about different opinions and each other’s feelings.
- Communicate to your child that in our communities and, in fact, all over the country, there are groups of people who feel the way you do, and there are also other people who feel differently. Each one of us can be kind and respectful and a good listener. Each of us can be a change-maker, adding to positivity in the world in our own way by talking to and understanding, uniting people with different opinions.
- Share your family values. Ask your child to think of a superhero that has his/ her values – and, share your own hero. Think of how your superhero would help people to feel less divided.