Is it necessary to discuss the
topic of feelings with your children, or should you just let them learn
about emotions on their own?
Children are exposed to a barrage
of emotions at a very early age. Some confuse them, and others sadden them.
They will learn to cope with their own feelings and with those of others
gradually, and own their own, but they could always do with a push in the
right direction. Here's how you can go about it.
Every time 7-year old Rati was upset
with her parents or little brother, she would run into her room and bang
the door shut. Her parents would just ignore her, and when it was time
for the next meal, they'd knock on the door and call her. If she comes,
there would be no more discussion of the topic, and her parents would pretend
as if nothing happened. If she refused to come out, they'd just let her
be. 'She'll come to her senses when her stomach starts growling.' Rati
is now grown, and has two children of her own. While she feels an extremely
close bond with her kids, she is rather detached from her parents. "I never
did get close to them," she admits. "We never spoke about anything really
important, and I could never discuss my feelings with them."
What did Rati's parents do wrong?
Instead of ignoring her 'supposed misery', they should have probed a bit
into her psyche. "Why did you run into your room? What were you feeling?
Were you angry at someone? What did I say that made you feel bad?"
If your child seems upset over something
that happened at school, don't assume she'll talk about it if she wants
to. Go up to her, sit with her, and ask her what she's feeling at that
moment. Are her feelings those of loneliness? Of anger? Ask her why such
Sit with your child, and start by
giving her an opening. "Your eyes tell me something is wrong." Or, "I can
see you are very excited. Why don't you tell me about it?"
Help your children identify feelings
by supplying them with a choice of emotions. Are you feeling alone? Unloved?
Angry? Sad? Jealous? Do you feel as if none of your friends likes you?
Do you sometimes feel we perhaps love your brother/sister more?
Good and bad
Don't just focus on bad feelings.
Talk about good feelings as well. Ask them when they were the happiest.
Why? Share experiences.
After you've asked your child a few
leading questions, sit back and really listen to her. Children will open
up only if they feel you are genuinely interested in what they have to
say. So let your child do most of the talking.
Remember, these formative years are
not easy on any child. Kids experience a range of conflicting emotions,
which confuse and upset them. While they do learn to cope on their own,
if would do wonders for their self-esteem if they have a parent who they
can discuss not just how the day went, but how they felt about the day.
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- The Indiaparenting Team