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.
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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.
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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.