Help Your Kids Work WITH Their Emotions. They'll Have a More Empowered, Successful & Healthier Life!
20 Things to Parents Need to Teach Kids About Emotion
Does the thought of teaching your child to deal with his or her emotions feel overwhelming to you? For many generations, people have worked hard to ignore, repress and vilify their emotions, leaving most parents unknowledgeable about them. Fortunately, people are increasingly recognizing that emotions are important, equally important as the other three major areas of human life, the mental, physical, and spiritual.
Many modern-day writers (e.g. Michael Brown in The Presence Process) acknowledge that we humans get to know these different areas of our lives in distinct 7-year periods. Up to age 7, we work on our emotions; from 7-14 on mental development, and from 14-21, as our bodies strengthen and mature, we develop the physical. Emotionally speaking, because of previous attitudes about emotions, most of us, says Brown, merely repeat the first seven years of life, throughout our entire lives. NOW is the time for us to change this system, and end the tiring pain that has resulted. Life is meant to be joyful!
We can start by helping children learn about and work with their emotions, especially from ages 0-7. But what to teach? Do you know the actual cause of anger or loneliness, why forgiveness isn’t really for the other person, or how jealousy is designed as a stimulus for our own creativity? These things we need to know, share with our children, so emotions are returned to their rightful place, reversing emotional repression for coming generations.
To get you started, here are 20 things that you, and your children (of any age) need to know regarding emotions.
1. Emotions are energy, they are e-motions, “energy in motion.” Help your child to know that, just as we have running water or electricity, we have emotions, which move around inside us because of their design.
2. Emotions follow rules (principles of physics that govern energy). Demonstrate to your child that emotional energy moves. The next time your child is angry, equip your child with crayons and a large piece of newsprint paper. Ask them to think about the angry feelings, then start scribbling, using big movements, and making noises to accompany the scribbling. When completed, invite your child to talk about what happened to his/her feelings of anger. Your child should report feeling “lighter” or “happier.” Then destroy and discard the paper. Note together how simple it is to get angry energy “out of me” and then let it go entirely.
3. Emotions are a part of us; we cannot get rid of them. Many people believe it’s possible to “get rid of anger” and other emotions. This is impossible, because they are part of us. Since the remarkable in-womb photos of babies were published by Lennart Nilsson in A Child is Born, we have been able to see that babies appear to have emotions even before birth. We can teach children that their job is to work with their emotions, not attempt to eradicate them. Like learning to walk, we all need to practice and experiment with emotions.
4. Our emotions have a job to do for us; they help us navigate our lives. Because each emotion offers us a “signal,” each indicates what we need to do next, related to the situations in which our emotions arise. Feeling love, for example, suggests we “come closer.” Feeling fear suggest we “watch out.” Parents need to learn these “signals” and teach them to children, so they know better what to do when their emotions attempt to get their attention. (Get a free list of the signals of 7 everyday emotions at www.emotionalpro.com)
5. If we hold our emotions inside, and don’t listen to them, they grow—sometimes getting “ugly.” When we hold water behind a dam, it begins to build up. The water is always ready to escape, especially through a hole in the dam. This is how energy works. When we hold emotions inside and don’t allow them to move on, they build up similarly, looking to escape at the first possible upset. Parents can help children to know how to feel, process, learn from and release emotions, to avoid this.
6. Some emotions are more active than others, meaning that when we hold them inside, they have more of an effect on us. Choosing to hold onto emotions, rather than allowing them to move through and away from us, can create negative consequences for us. Anger, for example, is our most active emotion. When we hold onto it, anger continues to work (move), even if we’re not aware of feeling angry. It can negatively impact the way we perceive, block our success, destroy our self-esteem and set the stage for physical illnesses. Parents need to advise kids that holding emotions inside is ill-advised, unless it is an emotion like love, that we want to build inside of us.
7. Emotions are always with us, talking to us about what is best for us to do. Emotions don’t sleep; they’re at work 24/7. They can’t tell time, and will easily show up 30 years after a highly-charged experience, especially if we put ourselves in a similar situation. Even if we don’t listen to them, emotions are giving us feedback, like a television that is never turned off. It’s important for kids to learn to listen.
8. Emotions draw our attention to the things to which we need to attend. Because it was traumatic, you might not remember being bullied by a classmate, violated by a pedophile, or how you were injured in an accident. Then one day, years later, you have another experience of being bullied, violated or hurt. Immediately, those old feelings arise. If you attend to them, you’ll be able to remember your emotions and the original events; and your emotions will be very, very powerful, because they have been held inside for years. Emotions do this is so we can get finished with those “open wounds” and move on to something else. Kids need to know how important it is to heal the wounds