Why does teaching kids about emotions matter?
For some of you, the answer seems abundantly obvious, and for others, you might be thinking "they're just emotions we all work around them."
Sometimes our logic and emotions match perfectly and other times what we "know" we should do and what we "feel" drives us to do exactly the opposite!
As adults, most of us have a hard time navigating our emotions, which is why teaching children about emotions is even more important.
By educating yourself on why emotions matter you can support kids by providing guidance and understanding that will help kids grow into successful and well-rounded adults.
Therapy for kids often involves helping them understand their emotions and why they are important, this blog will equip you with tools that will support your kids in developing their emotional intelligence and ability to communicate their feelings.
Emotions are very complicated and elusive things.
They are far stronger than our thoughts and often make no sense at all and pull us in all sorts of directions- sometimes directions we'd really rather not go.
Worst of all, they are so unclear! Our emotions don't like to communicate to the rest of our brains they sort of just go and on rare occasions line up perfectly with what we're thinking.
But, emotions provide fulfillment in life, however non-emotional or "robotic" you might be, without emotions you would never feel satisfaction, pleasure, contentment, or anything!
But that's not all emotions do, they are primary alarm systems alerting us to things that attract and repel us.
They inform us on a very basic and immediate level if a deeply rooted need is being met, or if we might be under threat.
This is why emotions matter- without them we would be more lost than we think we are with them, scary.
One way I like to think of emotions is as our "Need Compass."
Emotions matter because they point the way to what we need to be paying attention to.
Have you ever made a rational decision that you were unhappy with? Probably lots.
We can't separate our lives into rational decisions nor can we just blindly act out emotional impulses all the time.
Our emotions and our logic are complementary aspects that boost one another.
The emotion is directing us to or away from something, and our logic can help identify what specifically the emotion is directing us to.
We just don't usually give ourselves enough time to reflect on our emotions.
The next time you feel a type of way ask yourself, "what need is this emotional response pointing to?" "what core part of me is being threatened and making me feel anxious, or scared?"
Once you engage your logical brain with your emotions you are able to find a way of meeting your need and making decisions that you'll be happy with.
When we are stumped on a problem, feeling down, or stuck, often the only way to move forward is not to just tell ourselves to move forward.
As I mentioned above, our emotions are stronger than our thoughts, so if we want to move forward and through something, we have to get our emotions on board.
This is another reason why emotions matter.
We can use our logical brain to activate our emotions in the ways we need to in order to keep pushing through.
Let's take gratitude for example.
Feeling grateful is one of the most profound emotions we can experience and we can illicit that emotion through our logical brain.
By actively thinking about times you've been truly grateful you can begin to access the emotional change to experience gratitude here and now to help you move through whatever difficulty or problem you just can't seem to move past.
Clearly, emotions have a large part to play in our lives.
A question I very frequently get asked is "what do I do with them next?"
Maybe you've identified a need or a threat and have gained clarity but that feeling won't let go of you, what do you do next?
More often than not an emotion just wants to be labeled accurately.
It's the perfect marriage of logic and emotion working together to problem solve, and it's that easy.
No sure how to label it?
Print off a "Feelings Wheel" or take a screenshot of one on your phone and whenever you start feeling something, take it out and find the exact word or words that match your feeling and say it out loud.
Literally, that's all you have to do.
Our emotions are looking for where they belong in us and like being a compass to what we need, emotions matter because they are us, and they are looking for a place to fit, in us.
To wrap up:
Emotions are part of being a human being. The more the adults know about what emotions are, and what they do, the better job they can do supporting and developing the mental well-being of children.
They are primal alarm systems that protect us as we journey through our everyday lives and allow us to feel at ease when we are satisfied.
Emotions matter because they are the compass that let us know we are getting closer to some need that is absent in our lives, or if there is some perceived threat to who we are at our core.
Emotions matter because they allow us to move forward, push through difficult times and tough decisions and heavily influence the way we think.
Lastly, emotions matter because they are who we are, and like your kids (and maybe even yourself) they too are looking for where they belong.
Teaching and understanding why emotions matter will help develop and support children as they grow and navigate their development in healthy and productive ways that normalizes emotional uncertainty and confusion.
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