Teach Kids the Language of Emotion
It is up to us to teach our kids many things. But how to recognize and talk about emotions should be pretty high on that list.
Gordon Neufeld is a physicist/chemist turned psychologist and his perspective on raising kids and being human is refreshing and makes total sense to me. From a molecular level, he says, all things need attachment to survive. The first thing an atom does when separated, is look for something else to attach to. And that is just how it is with humans, big and small. After we attach healthily, we can then mature. Like a tree that attaches deep roots into a ground can grow strong a tall, a tree that does not attach well or in the wrong soil, will not survive long. Our kids need to be attaching to us! Mimicking us or those we respect!
In his presentation called "Kids Need Us More Than Friends" he talks about the reason the world is in such a sorry state is because for a few generations, our kids have been attaching to peers instead of parents and grandparents. One simple example he gives, is that we are losing the war on literacy--the average child's vocabulary has decreased because they are attached to each other and talking like each other. This got me thinking about the language of emotion.
Do we want our kids learning about emotions and how to respond to them by watching peers? Or by watching us? While I am sad and even vexed by the amount of people who use "you're" and "your" incorrectly, I'm much more concerned about the amount of us who really have no vocabulary to use when we talk about emotion. We as parents need to be equipped to teach our kids that language too. And for many of us, that means we have to learn it first, or along with our kids. Good news is that it doesn't have to be hard.
You can start today by doing one simple thing: label your feelings as more than "sad," "mad," or "bad." Below is a list of emotions. I have a similar one on my fridge that I can look through when I'm trying to identify how I'm feeling or how my kids are acting. Labeling our emotion without judgment in an amazing tool. Once your kids see you do it, they'll join in.