Managing Emotions

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". . . [P]ositive emotions have an undoing effect on negative emotions," asserts Fredrickson (2000), adding that desired feelings such as joy, interest, and contentment broaden a person's thought-action repertoire, in turn building enduring resources for survival and well-being. This is much the same principal as Joseph Wolpe established with reciprocal inhibition and systematic desensitization: You overcome the undesired emotion by creating the desired one. For parents, teachers, and child therapists this means that the more you help a child discover and experience his or her potential for creating happiness and well-being, the less likely that child is to experience anxiety, depression, or anger. Appropriately managing emotions also involves learning that there are times when grief, though painful, may be an appropriate process of adjustment, or that fear, though uncomfortable, may prevent a child's entering into a dangerous situation.

Since fear, grief, and guilt are dealt with in other chapters, the emphasis of the stories in this section is on helping to build positive emotions. There are tales that focus on the awareness and appreciation ofsensory experiences (Burns, 1998), and that talk about fun, humor, and laughter. They look at how to cultivate contentment, how to change feelings by changing posture, and how to express emotions congruently. There are also stories about managing anger in a way that delivers the message with humor.

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