Identify the exasperation interaction(s) based on the cartoon illustration of each lifetrap. (For a larger, printable version, visit www.gep.sg)
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Answering the following questions will help you to gain insight into the way you react and respond to your children’s feelings:
1. Think of some of the common types of emotions—joy, excitement, happiness, contentment, longing, anger, loneliness, embarrassment, fear, shame, sadness; feelings of betrayal, helplessness, depression; feeling unwanted or rejected. When you see any of these in your children, which ones make you feel uncomfortable?
2. What is it about these feelings that make you uncomfortable?
3. Which of the three broad coping styles (surrender, avoidance and overcompensation/counterattacking) are triggered when you see these emotions in your children?
4. How does your coping style manifest when you see these feelings in your children? For example, do you blame yourself, avoid talking and leave, or get short-tempered with your children? Or let your spouse deal with these uncomfortable emotions, or you blame yourself, or retreat by yourself and feel sad?
5. Do you behave in a similar way each time your children experience these feelings?
6. Can you remember specific incidents involving these feelings from your childhood? (Maybe you experienced these emotions or someone around you did.)
7. Did your parents welcome these feelings?
8. In general, how did your parents deal with your emotions?
9. When your parents dealt with you this way, how did that make you feel?
10. Is there anything you wish your parents had said or done instead?
11. What did you want from them?
12. In the end, how did you cope with these feelings when you were a child? What do you remember doing specifically?
13. Is this similar or different to how you deal with your children when they experience the same feelings?
14. What do you think your children wish you would do or say instead?
15. If you were to do that, how would you be feeling now?
16. Do you see that not talking about feelings with your children can be harmful?