We all want what’s best for our family and to be the best parent we can be for our children. In order to equip your children for life, you love them, teach them to read and write, brush their teeth, nourish them with healthy foods. Well, just as important as these essential tools, kids need tools to learn how to understand their emotions and how those emotions influence their behavior.
Everyone knows you need to teach children the alphabet in order for them to achieve academic literacy & to succeed in school (reading literacy). Well, in order for kids to succeed in relationships and in life, they need to understand what they feel and how their feelings influence the way they behave (emotional literacy). Just like reading literacy, emotional literacy is a crucial life skill and key element to mental health, academic achievement and overall well-being.
Feelings are similar to waves in the ocean – they come and then they go. At the peak of a feeling or emotion, a behavior kicks in…. sometimes one that ends up getting us into trouble. For example, if something does not go your way, it is natural to feel disappointed. As disappointment floods in, it often converts into an action such as yelling or slamming a door. The fact is that feelings are communicated through behavior.
In other words, children behave because of the way they feel. Understanding one’s feelings and being able to express those feelings productively is a skill that needs to be taught and developed in children.
We have a tendency to tell our children not to feel, either because we don’t want them to feel badly, we don’t understand how they could feel that way, or we just don’t feel that way ourselves. We say things like, “Don’t be shy or don’t be sad”, but the reality is, they are shy and they are sad. Just because we say “don’t be” doesn’t mean they “won’t be”!
Teaching children about what they feel, and providing effective ways for them to positively express (or deal) with their feelings is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children and family. If your child hits because he is mad, interrupts because he is excited, whines because he is disappointed, or talks back because he feels ashamed, then what he or she needs is an alternative way to express what is- that is, what he or she is feeling. Together with your child, come up with creative, positive ways of expressing each feeling to replace the negative behavior.
Remember this catchy slogan:
Feelings are real and something we feel.
What matters the most is the way that we deal!
If you would like to learn more about developing emotional literacy in your child, we suggest looking into a program developed by long-time friends of Dr. Bill called Pocket Full of Feelings (pff for short). Pff is a fun and easy to apply tool, created by Dr. Ann Corwin (The Parenting Doctor) and Karin Lombardo (M.A. & mom), to help children develop the language and skills needed to successfully express the way they feel and then most importantly learn how to deal with those feelings. This unique program gives parents, educators, and caregivers effective solutions needed to comprehend curious childhood behavior, and at the same time, provides children with our fun feeling tokens so their feelings become touchable and real. Plus, Poffer, our wise owl, teaches kids how to deal with their feelings. Pff will show you that children behave because of the way they feel, and when children learn to deal productively with all of their feelings, they will be happier and more successful in life. To learn more about this program, please visit www.pocketfulloffeelings.com.