Sometimes parents think children need to be taught about emotions. Often this comes up because a child has displayed some strong anger. And to be honest, as an adult, we can feel frightened by anger. What the heck do we do so our child does not feel anger. How do we get rid of it. Quickly!
Sometimes this topic comes up because a child is crying.....and won't stop. Just how do we stop them. And again, adults can feel frightened by this emotion too.
And the notion of not trying to stop the child may be foreign to you.
Early Childhood teachers will say: "use your words". As though whatever is being felt in the child's body can easily be translated into words. Ever thought that this is a hard concept for children to get? How about you? Can you remember to put into words the emotion you are feeling? Maybe later when you have had time to engage your brain and think about how you felt. Maybe then.
And what about when a child gets over excited. Do you ask the child to put this emotion into words? Do you try and calm the child down? Often this happens. It seems as though we don't want any emotion around us. We would sooner that children and people put this emotions into words and talk about them rather than feel them.
All this is having an impact on the children. and how they feel. It teaches them that emotions are not allowed.....quick, don't feel, just say something calmly. Stay calm, at all costs.
Children learn about what to do with emotions, by absorbing how the adults around them deal with them. If they see no emotion in adults then they will learn to suppress emotions, because that is what is being modelled for them. If they see adults quickly pushing down emotions, then the child will learn to do the same thing.
If the adults project their anger out and onto others than that is what they will learn.
The other way children learn about emotions, is through stories. Consider what stories you read to children. have a read yourself and see what happens with emotions. Are the characters allowed to feel. Do they blame others for their feelings? Are they encouraged to feel them?
Ideally, we want children to learn that all emotions are valid. Because they are. It's what we do with them that may not be appropriate. Acting out and driving emotions into behaviour is not usually good for anyone.
Please teach your children to know that when they are feeling an emotion , that they are allowed to feel them in their body. That is where the emotion is. Sure, we can talk about it after, and express it verbally to others. But in the moment, the emotion is felt in the body. And if a child learns to feel it in their body without thinking about (blaming) why it is there, then it will simply dissolve. And life can carry on, until the next emotions arises.