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Dr. to share parenting tips

— Everyone who has ever been a parent knows what it is like to wonder why in the world their child would do what they just did. Nationally-recognized parenting expert Dr. Ann Corwin wants to answer that question during a free presentation Tuesday, June 11 at 6 p.m. in The Dalles Wahtonka High School auditorium.

The Pocket Full of Feelings workshop will teach parents how to recognize the feelings behind their child’s behavior and

how to teach their child to handle those feelings in a healthier way.

“A lot of parents say ‘I have no idea why my child is acting like that,’ but in reality they behave that way because of the way they feel … I really believe this is going to be an ‘Aha!’ moment for a lot of parents,” Corwin said.

She said everyone has feelings, whether they want to or not. No one can wake up in the morning and say “I’ve decided I’m not going to have any negative feelings today.” Yet adults often expect children to do just that.

“We have a tendency with kids, it doesn’t matter what age, to tell them not to have feelings,” she said. “If a child is acting shy around someone we’ve known for a long time we say ‘Don’t be shy; you know so-and-so.’ But even if we tell our children not to be one of those feelings, it won’t matter. The biological fact is they are going to have those feelings.”

What really matters, Corwin said, is the way they deal with how they feel, which is what Pocket Full of Feelings teaches. It’s called emotional literacy — helping kids recognize that when they roll their eyes or call their parents stupid it’s because they’re feeling frustrated or ashamed or disappointed, and there is a better way to handle those feelings.

She said parents often look at workshops like Pocket Full of Feelings and think that only parents with difficult children need to go, but she said emotional literacy is an important life skill for everyone.

“I would love to see the community say ‘This is universal. There isn’t anyone this doesn’t apply to,’” she said.

Debby Jones of YOUTHTHINK said the coalition, along with Child Care Partners at Columbia Gorge Community College, decided to bring in Pocket Full of Feelings with the help of a grant from the Wasco County Commission on Children and Families. She said teaching emotional literacy tips can help meet the organizations’ goals of providing youth the tools and skills to make good decisions in life.

“So many people think we just talk to kids in the schools and tell them not to do drugs, but that’s really not where prevention starts,” she said. “We need to talk to kids and parents about emotional intelligence and how we handle stress.”

She said risky behaviors like underage drinking often come when kids are trying to make feelings like boredom or stress go away.

“The feeling controls them and then negative things happen,” she said.

Jones said as she spends time with youth she sees “a real gap” in emotional intelligence and helping bridge that gap fits in with YOUTHTHINK’s mission. She said the coalition chose Corwin to help them in that goal because they have worked with her in the past and liked what they saw.

Corwin will also be presenting workshops directed to educators (9 a.m. to noon on June 10), childcare providers (6-9 p.m. on June 10) and service providers (9 a.m. to noon on June 11). To register for one of those session contact Child Care Partners at 541-506-6130.

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