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Sanctuary in the Home: Developing Emotional Intelligence

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sanctuary-pieThis is Part 2 in a series of posts regarding implementing the Sanctuary Model in the home.


By Denise Morganthall


Emotional Intelligence is the ability to recognize your emotions, understand what they are telling you and realize how they affect people around you. Emotional Intelligence involves your perception of others. When you understand how they feel, this allows you to manage relationships more effectively. Scientists and psychologists believe that we learn to be socially appropriate from our parents and other people when we are very young. The parent is the child’s first and most important teacher, so parents need to role model the kind of behavior they want their children to emulate and a way of teaching and developing Emotional Intelligence.


Emotional learning helps us respond rather than react. If your teenager does something that puts you “over the edge,” look at the big picture before you overreact. Try to validate your child’s feelings by saying, “I was in the same situation as you when I was your age. I know how you feel and why you did what you did. However, in the future let’s talk about it.” You are now bonding with your child and promoting the opportunity to communicate.


Resolving conflict in healthy and constructive ways can strengthen trust between people. In any heated situation, whether with your child or spouse, it is important to always think before you act. Instead of saying something you will regret, say what you mean without being mean when you say it. Conflicts and disagreements are inevitable in all relationships, however we need the courage to address conflict rather than acting out around it. Show empathy, and consider everyone’s feelings.


Here are some things you can practice to expand Emotional Intelligence in your home:

  1. Help your children understand and handle overwhelming feelings such as anger, frustration, fear and sadness. Let them know it is OK to be angry as long as they don’t hurt themselves or others.
  2. Validate your children’s feelings. Instead of saying, “There is no reason for you to be upset!” you could try, “I understand how you feel, that happened to me too when I was your age.”
  3. Help your children name their feelings. When children are yelling, they sometimes have difficulty expressing words due to their limited vocabulary. As a parent, you can help your child name his feelings by saying, “You must feel anxious about your test today.”
  4. Show respect to your children and other family members. Use the Golden Rule -- treat others the way you want to be treated.
  5. Apologize and admit mistakes. Nobody’s perfect. When you make a mistake, let them know and apologize for it. This will teach them it’s OK to make mistakes, but that they should also make amends.

These techniques will help to provide a thriving family environment. Problems are bound to arise, but it is how you cope with them that is most important.


Part 1 – Sanctuary in the Home: Embracing the commitment of nonviolence 


Denise has been in the mental health profession for 15 years. She is a mother of 4 and an advocate of Sanctuary. She is a Sanctuary representative for KidsPeace and member of the Sanctuary Institute. Denise is also a life coach and is pursuing a career in freelance writing.

Autism markers present in infancy, National Institute of Mental Health study says

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autism-ribbonFailure to make eye contact is a classic sign that a child may fall on the autism spectrum. But it has commonly been thought that children cannot actually be diagnosed with autism until they are at least 2 years old.


Now, a study released this month that was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, is challenging that timeline. The study, published in the journal “Nature” shows that children later diagnosed with autism demonstrate a steady decline in attention to other people’s eyes from 2 to 6 months old. This finding could lead to earlier detection and, therefore, more effective treatment of autism.


In this study, doctors followed a group of children from birth to age 3. Half of the group fell into a high-risk category, because they had older siblings already diagnosed with autism. Eye-tracking equipment was used to determine where the children looked when watching video clips of their moms or other caregivers. It was found that the children later diagnosed with autism had a steady decline in eye contact, focusing half as long as those children not on the spectrum.


Researchers believe that identifying signs of autism at a younger age will give medical professionals more tools to keep the children’s social development more in line with that of their peers.


If you are a parent, would you be in favor of a tool that could potentially diagnose your child at an earlier age? 

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