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          September 26, 2007

          Do you have a child who throws tantrums and won’t behave? Dr. Phil’s guests, Renee and Brian, struggle to get their 3-year-old son to listen to them. Dr. Frank Lawlis, author of Mending the Broken Bond, suggests these parents teach their child how to give language his feelings using a mindsight. In his book, he describes mindsight as the ability to read and react to the emotions of others; a skill that is critical to forming bonds and relationships. “Babies and toddlers don’t have language skills, so they have to develop the ability to read facial expressions and to communicate through their nonverbal cues; thus, the cries, screams, and the cuddly coos,” he explains. “The lack of mindsight can contribute to a wide range of behavioral problems in both children and adults.”

          Below are exercises that can help improve a child’s mindsight, one form of wordless communication.  

          1. Encourage your child and family to label the facial expressions for emotion every day on the Feelings Chart.
          2. As the child identifies each feeling and face associated with it, ask: “What makes you feel this way?”
          3. Have all family members describe their feeling states and how things and events affect their feelings.
          4. Have a family or group discussion on nonverbal cues, and talk about each other’s cues and what they mean.
          5. Ask your child to look into a person’s eyes and describe what that person is feeling.
          6. Discuss nonverbal cues such as tone of voice, body posture and touching.
          7. Help your child write a short story using only nonverbal communication to describe interaction.
          8. Ask family members to role-play events that relate to feeling states, and have others guess what each is feeling based on body language.
          9. Have family members write letters to each other expressing their feelings and how they express them nonverbally.
          10. Watch movies and study how actors express their feelings using expressions, eyes and body language.

          For more information on rebuilding the relationship with your child, read Mending the Broken Bond, by Dr. Frank Lawlis.

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