Excerpt from KFPS Training Day

“Everyone has told me that kids adapt to their environment and will turn out just fine. 

Everyone also tells me that troubled teenagers are products of their environment. 

Seems to me, everyone must have it got it wrong somewhere.”

Matt Sossi, Kids First Parents Second

          `Kids First Parents Second is an organization dedicated to helping kids cope with events OUTSIDE of their control.  It is our hope that the program we created will: 1.  Help children learn to identify and express thought and feeling, 2.  Provide children with needed coping skills and life direction.  To start, we must talk about helping children with their emotional intelligence.

What is Emotional intelligence?

In the last decade or so, science has discovered a tremendous amount about the role emotions play in our lives. Researchers have found that even more than IQ, your emotional awareness and ability to handle feelings will determine your success and happiness in all walks of life, including family relationships. For parents, this quality of “emotional intelligence”– as many now call it– means being aware of your children’s feelings, and being able to empathize, soothe, and guide them. For children, who learn most lessons about emotion from their parents, it includes the ability to control impulses, delay gratification, motivate themselves, read other people’s social cues, and cope with life’s ups and downs.   Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman, Ph. D. with permission of the author. Copyright 1997 by John Gottman, all rights reservedEmotional Intelligence New York Times:  By JENNIFER KAHN Published: September 11, 2013

 The theory that kids need to learn to manage their emotions in order to reach their potential grew out of the research from a pair of psychology professors — John Mayer, at the University of New Hampshire, and Peter Salovey, at Yale.  In the 1980s, Mayer and Salovey became curious about the ways in which emotions communicate information, and why some people seem more able to take advantage of those messages than others. While outlining the set of skills that defined this “emotional intelligence,” Salovey realized that it might be even more influential than he had originally suspected, affecting everything from problem solving to job satisfaction: “It was like, this is predictive!”  Emotional Intelligence New York Times:  By JENNIFER KAHN Published: September 11, 2013

For children, the basic components of emotional intelligence allow children to : 1. Talk about their feelings, 2. Understand how to be happy, 3. Understand how to control themselves, handle problems and get along with others..  Developing Your Child’s Emotional Quotient: The Value of Emotional Intelligence by Dr. Sandra Wartski.”


  1. Helps children become aware of their emotions;
  2. Uses that awareness as an opportunity for discussion;
  3. Validates children’s feelings;
  4. Helps the child find words to label the emotion he is having; and
  5. Explores strategies to help the child solve the problem at hand.

Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman, Ph.D. with permission of the author. Copyright 1997 by John Gottman, all rights reserved.


Many children are NOT going to want to talk about their thoughts and feelings. Children will come in guarded.  Children may be embarrassed and shy.  Many children will be extremely angry and wonder WHY you want to know about their problems and WHAT you could possibly do to help them.   Boys may be less able to express themselves than girls.  The oldest child will act differently than the youngest and the middle child will have their own issues to deal with………..


Each instructor will be provided a matching card game that is to be shared with the children – no more than 5 to each group.   The cards are to be placed faced down and the children (youngest first) attempt to match identical emotion cards.  The child who wins the game with the most matching cards wins the game and a appropriate prize.

The children sit down with the instructor being at the head of the table.  The children are then asked to draw pictures of the characters they found on the cards.  The children are asked to also mimic the pictures that they have drawn.  The instructor then will engage the children if they have ever been angry, sad or worried.


We require our older children (7 on up) to start writing in journals when they start our program.    “Journal Writing is a wonderful way of expressing emotions.  With journal writing comes the skill of emotional literacy.  That is the ability to understand, express and recognize your emotions.  Encouraging children to write in journals gives them the gift of self-awareness.

Children must be given the correct vocabulary so they may improve their emotional literacy. Younger children can simply be given stickers or stamps to show their feelings for a particular day.  The idea is to create a feeling journal in which they document their emotional reactions to situations.   “Developing Children’s Emotional intelligence.”  By Shahnaz Bahman and Helen Maffini.  We have attached a complete list of words and images that the kids should be using when writing their journals.  Children should be encouraged to use as many descriptive words as possible to help them identify their true range of feelings.

………………For more information about the Kids First Parents Second program contact us at mattsossi@bsossi.com.  For more information about our program visit us at http://www.kidsfirstparentssecond.org  Thank you.

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